well I forgot to update this thing for a while

Sorry I forgot to update this blog this semester. I had a great one, filled with tons of learning. I think I learned the most in the design research area, which is exactly what I wanted to focus on this semester. There was only one project the whole semester, so I really got to dig deep and do what I have come to realize I do best: Problem solving.

Long-story short: I designed a storage system for clean food equipment, to be used in restaurant kitchens and catering businesses. I chose this area because I have almost zero experience in the food industry, and I wanted to design for a market that I was wholly unfamiliar with.  Needless to say, I had to do a TON of research. I utilized Government documents from OSHA, FDA, Scholarly and industry journals, interviews, focus groups, and user testing (those are just the sources I can think of offhand). Again, I learned a lot, and created a dynamic system that I am very proud of. After all, I tested the concept with potential users and the product scored very highly.

So that’s about it. Sorry again for the lack of posts, but I’m always glad to talk about the project, and you’re always welcome to a portfolio.  So I graduated with Highest Honors  (Summa Cum Laude) from Georgia Tech with a BS degree in Industrial Design.  Woohoo!

New Semester! Last Semester!

The school semester has started, and my space hotel project is finished. Well, not permanently closed; I plan on it being an ongoing thing, but for now it is at a good stopping point. You can see a shot of the hotel exterior, shown above.

Anyway, as with most studio projects, the first step is to choose what you want your project to be focused on. This step is also the hardest part, because it can set you up for either a great or awful project. The key is to find a balance between what you are personally interested in and what has the most opportunity for problem solving. Few things can describe the joy I have experienced while working on a great, interesting, and engaging project. On the other hand, a project that is uninteresting and uninteresting can give the distinct feeling of sogginess (think soggy socks, or when you stay in the pool too long).

I’ll be musing along what I want my project to be focused on soon. In the meantime, I go into this semester with high expectations, high hopes, and an overabundance of energy. I have an instructor that I think will be great, and a studio meeting time of 1PM. What more could I want?

 

I want to spend this holiday season in space

As I mentioned earlier, my co-op position at P&G ended in July, and I have been back in Atlanta ever since, waiting for January 2011, when I will go back to Georgia Tech to take the two classes I need to graduate (the clases are only offered in the Spring semester, which is why I have to wait until January).

One of the ways I have been making my time productive is by doing some personal design projects. My favorite one that I am working on  is a project that I have been thinking about for some time: An orbiting space hotel. Okay that sounds pretty nerdy, and perhaps it is, but let’s be a little forward-thinking for a moment. As time goes by, more innovations are made to advance cheaper, cleaner, and safer ways to carry humans into space. And now that Obama has put space travel in the hands of the private sector, free market competition is gaining more and more momentum in the realm of “space tourism.” Sure, no one in your neighborhood has participated…yet. But as we speak, competitions such as the X-prize continue to push engineers to create a sustainable market for space tourism.

So it’s really only a matter of time before space tourism ends up being more accessible to people. And when that happens.. Who knows? We might have space theme parks, space universities, and space McDonald’s one day! But before any of that happens, its a sure bet that there will be space hotels. If people (albeit incredibly rich people) are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money to experience weightlessness and the ability to view the Earth form within the confines of a cramped, loud, and seemingly disorganized research station, then surely there is a market for those same offworld experiences within the confines of a place that is designed with luxury and comfort in mind. Occupants wouldn’t be able to travel anywhere from the space hotel except back down to Earth, so the hotel will have to include sufficient entertainment and facilities for a stay of a week or so. Think of it more of a cruise ship than a Days Inn.

So I have gone about creating this environment for about 30 customers to occupy for about a week. This is an exercise in problem solving; how much must change with the absence of gravity and weight? So many products rely on the simple systems of gravity: chairs have legs to hold themselves off the ground, blankets can unquestionably rest on our bodies with the gentle push of gravity, and cups can have a wide open top because there is no fear of our drinks floating out in a slow explosion of deliciously-flavored droplets. Many  comforts have simply been done away with in our current forms of space habitation. But I’m trying to keep this projcet as close toreality as posible, so I am researching the few advances that life aboard the space shuttle and Space Station has brought: Zero-G toilets, showers, microwaves, appetizing food preparation, water faucets, and ventilation systems.

I’m finding out that I’m actually designing a whole new world, and I find myself constantly thinking about what I could design for it. Does this hotel have a branding strategy? What kind of footwear does one wear on a space hotel? Can people just use their cell phones to communicate via commercial satellites? What does a zero-G library look like?

So far I’ve come up with plans for a bedroom, bathroom, and two resteraunts.  I’ve also designed beds, dressers, and a sustainable drinkware system for the space hotel. I plan on utelizing a variety of artistic and design techniques, so that I can explore different ways of expressing ideas seen as I explore what life on the Space Hotel will be like.

Above is a view from a bed in the hotel. Note that the lounging area is on the “ceiling.” Of all the amusements Astronauts have, they say their favorite thing to do is just stare out the window at their home planet.

So we know that people can live in space for a period of time. We know it keeps getting easier to get there. So a space hotel isn’t exactly science-fiction. Its really just a matter of time.

PS this is a really fun project, and I hope to expand my skills with it. It remains to be seen how exactly this will factor into the portfolio…

Back in Atlanta/ blog redefinition

After a whirlwind few weeks, My Co-op position with P&G Oral Care Design is over. I gave a great couple of presentations on my last day highlighting my bet projects, and I heard that I impressed a few people. One big area of improvement has been presentation quality. I got lots of good feedback on that.

So after an 8 hour drive, I’m back in Atlanta, with 6 months to go before I go back to school. (I only have 2 classes left, and they are offered in the Spring Semester).

In all, my P&G co-op was a great experience. I couldn’t even list what I learned. Now that it is over, however, it is time to change this blog from a “Co-op Journal” back into a personal design blog.

It’s just one of a few changes that I’ll be making over the next few weeks. On to great things and bright futures…

four (!) weeks left

Exactly four weeks from tomorrow, my Co-op position ends. It’s coming incredibly fast, and I still have a good deal of work to do. My last week will consist of preparing and presenting everything that I’ve done here at my “End-of-Co-op Review.” These things tend to be a big deal, and I hear that all sorts of people get invited to these. I like to think that I have done a lot of special things with my time here, and I want to leave a good impression. So that really leaves only three weeks to finish my projects.

In other news I held a sketching/brainstorming session a week ago, and it went GREAT. I’ve never led one of these, and only participated in a few that I thought worked. Thanks go to my boss, for giving me some great tips. The main thing was to be very explicit what you want out of the participants: quality of sketches, amount of ideas,  how much time each round will be, etc. I got all sorts of great ideas, and now I know how to run brainstorming sessions! It was a good feeling to benefit from my own hard work and preparation.

Man, I can’t believe I only have four weeks left. I find myself asking the same questions that I have been asking all along. Have I really made the mist of my time here? Have I gone out of my way to benefit from this great opportunity?  I’m pretty sure that I have.

Six weeks and counting

Well I had my two presentations from the previous post, and everything went very well. I added a little humor, which was appreciated, and I had a great presentation (I’m getting much better at those. The key was understanding that if the presenter isn’t having fun/ being comfortable, then the audience feels the same way.)

But alas, as the end of the fiscal year looms ever closer, people are getting busier, and I needed a break. Plus some of my friends were graduating (Congratulations!) … and Iron Man 2 was about to open.

So I used up my vacation days, and spent an extended weekend in Atlanta. And it was just what I needed. I’m back at work with renewed vigor.

Today was the long-awaited tour of the pilot manufacturing plant that resides adjacent to the building that the Oral Care designers (and lots of other people) work in. It was something that I had expressed interest in seeing, so I set the whole tour up with the help of some R&D people and the awesome guy that actually walked us through the plant. They don’t normally do tours, but since we were working on Oral Care stuff, they showed us some of those manufacturing processes (with the machines off, for safety). The whole design team of about seven people got to go, and we all got outfitted with hair nets, lab coats, etc. The whole experience was very cool; it was like a live performance of the Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made. Everyone had a lot of fun, and I get to be the “hero for a day” for scheduling such an awesome event.

I’ve scheduled a sketching/brainstorming session for early next week, and then I’m going to begin wrapping up all my projects. Once I do that, I’ll start preparing my final Co-op Review, a brief overview of my accomplishments at P&G that I will present right before I leave.

Last day of the Co-op: June 25. That will be right at 24 weeks (6 months). It has gone by so fast…. But it only seems like that for a second. When I think back on all that I have learned, it seems like I’ve been here for a few years. Seriously, I’ve learned that much.

But hey, I have six weeks left, and that’s no cakewalk. I have a lot to do, and I plan on squeezing every bit of adventure and education from the time I have left.

IDSA recap + Presentations galore

Well it’s been two and a half weeks since the IDSA Southern District conference. I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed hanging out with my ID friends from Atlanta that made it up. I wasn’t too impressed with the city of Charlotte, though. It was too clean… like an overgrown mall.
The next week I went to Toronto to see my brother perform in a recital, and on the way back saw Niagara Falls (good thing I had my camera!)

The biggest news from the Co-Op is a bunch of presentations. I presented some sketches and concepts for one of our Oral Care products to someone from R&D, and it went very well. The original idea was to put the sketches in front of consumers during the next round of qualitative research, but my concepts poked so many holes at what the product could actually be that we need to go back and make sure that people will pay to have the needs I’ve identified be fulfilled. But I raised a lot of good questions that haven’t been looked at yet, so in that way I think the project was successful. Plus, my presentation went well.

Later today, after much postponing and anticipation, I will present all of the work I have done here to the rest of the Oral Care Design Group. My presentation is a mixture of mandatory self-promotion, info-graphics of my learning, and a few silly jokes. I think everyone is going to love it.

I’ve been told that a benefit of having a co-op / intern is that he/she can I bring in new information or tools that the group wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. So… I’ve decided to give a 10 minute presentation on a really scary discovery and my view of how design directly influences the environment.
I haven’t really given much more detail than that, because I want the information to be kind of shocking, but I guess there’s no harm in spilling the beans online here. I think I’ve posted about the North Pacific Gyre before, but I’m pretty sure these guys haven’t heard of it. It’s just one aspect of one material in one instance, but even that is a huge problem. If I just rant about “Save the world” as people are wont to do, I’ll be respectfully ignored.

So those presentations are what’s going on. Plus, as the fiscal year is coming to a close, (terminating at the end of June, when I leave) things can get more frantic and more urgent. That’s something that I find interesting… life in the publicly-owned corporation, I guess. Oooh, and I taught myself a new trick in Illustrator!