March 2016

  • Cantilever Beam Challenge

    March 24, 2016
    Posted by Mike
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    Building a Cantilever is no easy feat. When we were first told of the challenge, all of the teams kind of just sat there for a minute. None of us had an immediate clear strategy to be successful. It was a weird, perplexing atmosphere that normally isn’t felt at the Innovation Challenge. My team was especially dazzled. We brainstormed for a solid 15 minutes trying to come up a sound technical approach but we were in completely over our heads. None of us had a good strategy. So finally we just started building to see what would happen. This then is where the lesson lies.

    While sometimes it’s important to go into something prepared with an idea or strategy, sometimes it’s just as important to experiment. Trying something out is the best way to test it and so that’s what we began doing. We began tinkering with different ideas until we came up with a pretty good one – it didn’t win it for us, but had we tinkered more and brainstormed less I think we might have been able to come out on top.

    Those 15 minutes of fruitless brainstorming proved costly, as we could have desperately used them in the end. And so while I’m not saying we shouldn’t be prepared or we shouldn’t strategize before diving into something – sometimes we do have to take calculated risks. If you feel you’re not capable to do the task at hand you should give yourself as much time as possible to try to do it rather than sit there thinking of possible ways to go about doing it.

    In class for example If we’re given an essay prompt that we have no idea how to tackle, we shouldn’t just stare at it. We should start writing. Eventually an idea might come to us that otherwise wouldn’t have and it might catch on. In work, if we’re given a project that we don’t necessarily know how to do we have no choice but to experiment with what might and might not work – it’s our only option. True preparation tends to lead to success, but experimentation really is just another form of preparation and so we shouldn’t be afraid to try it – that’s certainly something the Innovation Challenge displayed today.

    Winning Reflection - Dan Baran

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  • Voting System Challenge

    March 17, 2016
    Posted by Mike
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    Maximizing time - no matter the circumstance or your own confidence in what you’re doing should always be a no brainer. During the Election Day Innovation Challenge unfortunately that was not the case. Normally my team and I are always working up until the last minute, frantically using every little bit of time to perfect our proposal or design. However day that was not the case and ultimately, it lead to our downfall.

    Our idea was to make elections on weekend so that voters would have more time to actually vote because they didn’t have to work and thus increase voter turnout. It works in Europe where they have national holidays for elections and it just seemed like such a good idea - very simple, straightforward and easy to implement. So we just brushed up on the presentation a little bit and threw a few bullet points on the poster and were ready to go. We finished with probably a good 20 minutes to spare. We didn’t maximize our time.

    We found out afterwards that we didn’t win because the judges were concerned that people still worked on weekends and they wouldn’t be able to vote and so voter turnout wouldn’t change much. While some of that is true, we didn’t bother to take it into account during our presentation. Although we had 90 seconds we finished everything we had to say in about 70 seconds or so - we just thought we didn’t need to add much more. In short we hadn’t maximized our time.

    Had we instead maximized our time by taking the time, both while prepping for the presentation and during the presentation itself, to address this issue we might have won. All we needed to say was “of course there are still workers who work on weekends but not nearlily as many as those who work during the week and so voter turnout would still be increased.” Perhaps this would have dispelled their concerns and we would’ve won. Regardless it couldn’t have hurt as we had time to spare still in both preparation and actual presentation.

    Outside of the innovation challenge we should keep this in mind in the classroom, in the workforce and just in everyday free time. Putting in that extra work for a paper, or prep time for an interview definitely can’t hurt. If anything, that’s something the innovation challenge proved today.

    Winning Reflection - Dan Baran

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