Gregory Affsa: Admissions Blogger
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{10 Jun}

An End Marks A Beginning

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The semester is long over by now. Given the fact I was managing school and working on the Accelerate project I was thrilled with the outcome of my GPA. With ID, there is also what’s called sophomore review where the professors review your work and determine if you’re prepared to move on to junior year. REgardless of GPA, if they don’t think you’re ready, you don’t move on. My letter came and luckily I’m all set. PHEW! It was a nerve racking three weeks between the end of the semester and receiving of my letter. Sophomore year is in the books.

I’ll be on campus for the summer though, participating in the Social Innovation Lab. The SIL is Accelerate meeting social impact. 5 of us will be innovating products, ideas or services that will benefit the world. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work on my Accelerate project for this. We’re also fortunate to be  working with BUILD, a program designed to encourage entrepreneurship in high school students.

This is also a new beginning for my Accelerate project, Gentoo. Gentoo is a finalist in Mass Challenge. Mass Challenge is a global innovation competition. Companies and invidivuals from all over the world enter. There were over 1,000 entries this year, we’re in the final 128. For the next few months we’ll be working out of their building in our own office space, have access to mentors, consultants and services for every component of business. This will culminate in a final pitch competition in September for the chance at winning $100,000. We’ve also found local manufacturers and I’m currently wearing the prototype now for testing.

My participation in Accelerate and how dramatically my life has changed because of the program is almost surreal. I look back at where I was a year ago and never would have thought I’d be on the cusp of starting my own business with the opportunity to help thousands of people. It took an incredible amount of work to get here but the experience is a true testament to hard work paying off.

{21 Feb}

Progress

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One of the fantastic things about Wentworth is the incredible amount of resources that we have at our disposal. As you may remember from past posts my team and I won Accelerate last semester. We’ve been moving forward with our design and using our grant money to refine our prototype. The case design has changed and we needed a prototype made so we can test it. There are a few methods to get the case built and all are pretty expensive. Injection molding is one option but one type costs $15,000 and the other costs $2,000. Secondly is 3-D printing. Generally this will only cost hundreds of dollars depending on the size of the piece. $10,000 is a good amount of money but a few hundred dollars is a pretty big chunk when there are larger expenses on the horizon. After a couple of phone calls the Manufacturing Center on campus said they’d be willing to produce a few copies for us for free. 48 hours later we were holding our first, real prototype. For me it was like holding my newborn child! I had produced the plans for this in 2-D through a CAD program and my teammate put those into Solidworks (necessary for the 3-D printer to print). We saw it go from concept to model to real life.

That being said, when you’re in Industrial Design they push model making here. In the field there are two schools of thought, one is that model making is expensive and time consuming (which it is) and the other is that it gives you way more insight into the use than any rendering could ever do (which is does). Hartmut Esslinger is (in my opinion) the father of modern design. He started his firm, Frog, in 1982. His firm is centered around the power of model making ( check this out…   http://www.core77.com/blog/business/advice_for_designers_from_hartmut_esslinger_24405.asp)

It wasn’t until I was holding my prototype case in my hand that I truly understood the power of model making. I used to be one of those people who cursed model making because it was hugely time consuming when you’re learning how to make everything perfect and incredibly expensive for a college student (you’ll spend more on supplies than your engineering friends will ever spend on books). I’ve become adept at repurposing, reusing and recycling in order to save some money but it’s still a tremendous cost. That being said, I think we jumped ahead 10 steps in the design of the new case because we had the model.

This all brings me back to one of my first posts where I talked about networking. Knowing the right people and being friendly and approachable will always manage to help you out in some way. We were 3 people removed from the instructor who was willing to print off our cases for free which means we had to make 3 connections in order to save hundreds of dollars. Totally worth it and now we have a great relationship with this new person. It’s a great case for going to school here and participating in Accelerate in particular. Interdisciplinary connections are a new focus for Wentworth and it is more reflective of the real world.

 

In other news, my bubble toy that also makes farting noises is coming along nicely. You’d be surprise, or maybe you wouldn’t, about how difficult it was for me to find a whoopie cushion in the city. I’m sure people read that about my homework and only see the “farting noises” part but in reality my toy is actually visually, tactile  AND auditory stimulating, unique among the toys in the project. It’s a blast and my professor laughs and smiles every time he comes to talk to me about it. With everything going on with Accelerate it puts me a little bit at ease to know my toy actually is fun! And how can you be stressed out when part of your job is to play with whoopie cushions?!

{15 Jan}

Back To Work

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Winter break here at Wentworth is only 3 weeks but honestly I prefer it that way. Come mid April we’re pretty much done with school and have a jump on most other college students when it comes of summer work. That being said it’s been a busy 3 weeks and a busy first two weeks back at school.

I spoke at length last semester about the Accelerate program. Over break we’ve made big strides to getting our product closer to market and still had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. Accelerate is on again for the spring semester and we’ll be pitching our same product in hopes of getting another chunk of money to put towards establishing ourselves as a company. Additionally, I just had way too much fun going through that process last semester that I’m already thinking of a new product to try and pitch. It’s an exciting prospect and a ton of work. Being here for an education though, what better education could I get than a direct emulation of the real world? Of course I have some concern that my school work will suffer some but in reality, were I running a company I’d have the equivalent number of projects as I do classes going on. As will last semester, and really any real life work scenario, you’re most likely to succeed when you have your stuff together and can manage your time well. College is meant to be one of those times when you evolve from child to adult. Know your limits but never be afraid to push yourself.

Aside from that, this is a great semester to be in Industrial Design. My first project for studio is to design a bubble toy, a toy that makes bubbles. R&D for this type of project has been very difficult and extremely serious. I had to spend Sunday afternoon playing with bubbles and attempting to have fun. Brutal work for sure but someone has to do it. I’m not joking about the serious part though. You must seriously put yourself in the mindset of a child and try to have fun. It’s what makes a successful toy. Every one of your friends who is in one of our engineering programs will laugh at you and curse you and make fun of you for this but if you do in fact take this type of design seriously then you’ll be the one laughing when their kid is begging them for that new toy that you designed.

It’s a blessing and a curse to be a creative person. There’s a specific niche of society where you can truly survive and thrive and be happy. Some corporate job will never be satisfying. And few adults can understand what it means to have fun (innocent fun like a kid does). But if you think you can, and are of that mindset, then ID is your niche.

{27 Nov}

Great End to a Great Semester

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Fall 2012 has been, far and away, the best semester I’ve ever had at college. My classwork has been great, bike racing a plenty and (drumroll) my team won the top prize for Accelerate!

http://www.wit.edu/features/2012/11/2012-20-11.html

The workload leading up to this point was excessive and my social life was basically non-existant. I think I saw my parents, who live 20 minutes away, once over the last two months. It’s definitely been worth it though. Our project now has funding and we’re moving forward with getting our infusion harness actually produced and into the hands of people who can benefit from it. To think an idea I had a couple months ago can literally help millions of people is overwhelming and humbling. Accelerate has been the most educational experience of my life and I’m thrilled to have participated in it. The knowledge gained and connections made are extremely valuable and have put my team and I on the path to starting our own company. This is exactly the reason I came back to school.

We have exactly one week of classes left and I’m finalizing my last projects. One is a door handle and the other is well…it’s a giant wheel.

For the door handle we were told to design it for a door that enters an environment. I chose Holgrave’s room from The House of the Seven Gables. This was reasonably difficult and extremely specific. Most people chose a skate shop, space station, outdoor store, pretty standard stuff. What’s cool is the school is having our final designs cast in aluminum and they’ll actually be able to fit on a door.

The giant wheel is my solution to a challenge. For model making every student needed to make a box with a wavy top. All of the boxes fit together into a long track. We need to design a vehicle to get down this track. In design and life my biggest piece of advice would be to think outside the box. Current and past students have all based their designs around a the wheel/axle idea of what a car should be. My design is based off of how mountain bike wheels have evolved. We used to run 26″ wheels, then it was 27.5″ for a brief period of time and now the majority of bikes are built with 29″ wheels. The bigger wheels roll over bumps much easier than the small wheels (physics!). So I built a big wheel and on my first test I was successful. Prof’s love when you think outside the box so if you come here and major in industrial design THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!

Looking forward to see what next year has in store so stay posted here for all the exciting news. Thanks!

 

Greg

{24 Oct}

A Tricky Balance

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Academics, RA, everything else. That’s the order of importance that things are supposed to be arranged. Now that cyclocross season is in full swing, plus my Accelerate projects, my plate is filled to the max. Everything is getting done, and done well if I do say so myself. Time management is key and if there’s one thing spending some time in the work force before coming back to school taught me it’s time management. In the real world there’s a greater responsibility to get your work done, and it’s not like you have a class where you’re being reminded about what’s due, it should just be there when your boss wants it to be. If I had one piece of advice that I’ve found most useful regarding time management it’d be lists. Sounds simple but keeping a detailed list with due dates is how I got stuff done when I worked in an office and it’s done well these past two years back in school.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Yes, time management techniques are boring. So lets get down to the good stuff.

Cyclocross season has been equal parts awesome and heart breaking. I’m riding really well, racing fast, even won the hole shot last weekend. But sadly my bike was damaged so severely in the last race that I won’t be able to repair it until I graduate and get a real job again. It was one of those weeks where I wished I was back to being a normal adult with money and not a poor college kid. I have a spare bike but it’s not nearly as fast.

That’s me on the right…

Downeast Cyclocross 2012 Day 2-PSP  9776

 

And I got a great grade on my tea light design…

 

All in all, a pretty great first half of the year.

For this second half I’m designing a vessel that can hold .75 liters of an imaginary liquid. Ummmmmmm, yea. Not much more to it than that. I’ll post an excellent picture of that project when it’s done. It’s a great example of how a project develops from a rough idea to a refined, intricate model.

Thanks for checking in!

 

Greg

Not sure how many, if any, of you remember the show “MacGyver” that was on years and years ago. I own the whole series on DVD. Basically it was this dude that could take anything and make anything out of anything. He was one of the first people I can remember idolizing and it was his creativity and ingenuity that drove me to do so. Had someone told me Industrial Design was an actual thing in high school that would have saved several post-high school years of confusion. ID projects are kind of like a MacGyver missions in real life. Here’s a problem and a bunch random items with which to solve it.

Our first project was to create a bridge capable of crossing 3 gaps; 8 feet, 12 feet and 16 feet. We were put into groups of 5, a mix of juniors and sophomores, given 20 sheets of cardboard and one roll of duct tape. Nearly all of which failed by collapsing when the first team member started to walk over. One group did managed to get half their group over the second gap before it failed though. Overall though it was a really interesting experience to be a part of and a great first design project I was involved in that was in a group.

 

The second and third instances of group design projects are occurring as part of Wentworth’s fantastic Accelerate program. Accelerate is basically an opportunity for students to develop a product or service and have access to leading entrepenure and business people in Boston in order to seek funding. I’m involved in two projects. The first is a concept for a pair of sunglasses (eventually I’ll post more details about this, for now it’s still in its infancy). I had the idea but recruited a 5th year Electromechanical Engineering student to assist in materials and a conceptual lens attachment. This is my baby and an idea I’ve had for a few months but did not know what to do with until I heard about Accelerate. My second project I was actually brought in to consult for the design of. I’m thrilled to be part of this project because if we’re successful we’ll be making the lives of people going through cancer treatment just a little bit easier.

And that’s how I know I made the right decision to come back to school. I know a less mature me would be all for designing cars, motorcycles or bicycles. But to get an adrenaline rush from the design process of a device to treat cancer? Never in a million years would I have thought that I’d be excited about such a thing. Finding what I love to do in life was the number one reason for returning to school and I’m very grateful to be reminded of that everyday.

{10 Aug}

Hello world!

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Move in eve!

In just a few hours we’ll be welcoming the First Year students. It’s been a crazy week of RA training and my group, the Apartments RAs, are some of the best people I’ve met on campus. In fact the entire group, Administration and RAs, took what one would think to be something as boring as protocol and procedure training and turned it into an enjoyable experience. As a first time RA I was initially a little nervous but all my concerns have been eased by the fantastic training experience and I’m confident we’ll have a successful year.

Being in Industrial Design, I’m fortunate to not have to buy any books for the coming year. However, I’ll probably end up spending at least twice what a normal student spends on books but instead I need to purchase fabrication materials and tools. Yesterday I received a list from my studio professor about what tools I need to buy for the upcoming year. Some I have, most I don’t. For the ones I don’t I have a really unique connection that I’ll be using to obtain them. To make an even longer story short, a friend of the family was recently hired to sell off the tools in the woodworking shop of a deceased millionaire. Basically, I have the opportunity to get my hands on the best of the best vintage tools for a fraction of the cost. One of my goals with my design work is the repurposing/recycling/upcycling/reusing of materials. So much of society revolves around the “consume and dispose” ethos. To be able to bring new life to something that someone else thought was dead is just as exciting to me as the design process. It’s a good lesson that can and should be translated to more aspects of our lives.

And lastly, this Saturday will be the first group ride of the cycling club. Several years ago Wentworth had a pretty good team and even hosted their own race. When those guys graduated the team went on a year hiatus. Last January myself and a classmate resurrected the team. This put us in a pretty sticky situation though. In order to submit a budget to race this year we needed to prove that we actually existed. We managed to get the minimum required roster to still exist this year. Boston is at the forefront of bicycle advocacy and as proof we’ve been able to double the roster before 98% of the students have even moved in. Cyclocross season starts in early October so we only have a month left to train.

What’s cyclocross? This is cyclocross… Cyclocross World Cup Belgium

That video is from Belgium where cyclocross is bigger than the NFL and NBA combined. New England is the nation’s hot spot for cyclocross with two previous national champions residing here. Rain, snow, sleet, hail,mud, sand; no matter what comes out of the sky or what’s on the ground, we race. This weekend we’ll start our group rides and I’ll start officially training for ‘cross season. We have a beginners ride going out on Saturday and an advanced ride going out on Sunday. I can’t wait to get out and start riding with the team.

I have a few things to finish up before move in. I’ll be checking in again next week. Thanks for reading!

Greg