Tesla Challenge

September 17, 2015
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This challenged proved to be pretty tough. A representative from Tesla came and brought one of the cars with him!  He explained how small innovations can make a difference, such as the retractable door handle on the Tesla vehicles which improves the aerodynamics of the car. We were instructed to do something similar and make a pitch for an improvement on an everyday item. We have done pitches in the past, but this one was a little different. Usually we are given specific details (items, situations, etc.) to incorporate into our ideas. This time, however, we were given freedom to do… just about anything! Another stipulation in the challenge is that we had to have realistic goals for our idea that could also be easily implemented. For example, we couldn’t make a flying car to avoid traffic. It would require too much money, time, and resources to create and wouldn’t be simple to use. The new or improved product was judged based on its efficiency, cost, feasibility, and impact on sustainability.

Our group decided to try and brainstorm ideas of everyday items we use first. Then, out of that list of items, we tried to think of possible improvements. Unfortunately a lot of the ideas we had were already in existence. We eventually decided to look for problems to everyday items, rather than improvements. Using this method, we were actually able to come up with idea…with only 5-10 minutes to finish our pitch! Our idea was a method to reduce the saline content in recycled water.

In the end I believe we lost because of two main reasons. The first reason is that our product is used often, but not necessarily every day. We proposed using the recycled water for outdoor uses such as watering the lawn and washing the house or car. Not everyone waters their lawn daily, and if so, it’s only during the warmer seasons. Also, people generally wash their car no more than once a week. If we had more time, we would focus on improving a product that is used more frequently. The second reason I believe we lost is because our product focused on a luxury item rather than a necessary item. The winning product was an improved refrigeration unit that limited the amount of cold air released when retrieving an item. This is an item that is used several times a day by most people so the innovation is more impactful.

Winning Reflection - Michael Hankins

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