Over this past week, we have been focused on the brainstorming stage of our design process. We started off with each member and Dr.Wettergreen getting a hundred index cards. We had an hour to write down any keywords of ideas we could think of that were relevant to the design, no matter how outrageous or impossible. Then we shuffled all the cards together and redistributed them. We did two more rounds of brainstorming, this time writing down additional ideas based off of what was already written on the index cards.

Afterward, we taped all of our cards on the glass walls around the OEDK conference room and started stacking repeated or similar ideas on top of each other. Once the 500 index cards were narrowed down, we started sifting through the cards and putting them into concept groups, such as materials, structures, and, of course, a category for impossible ideas (e.g. magic or the Force) and crazy ideas (too difficult for us to design in the span of 9 weeks). Once we had defined groups, we tried to cut down even more on the number of cards. Finally, we arrived at design blocks, which are the necessary components of our final design, and we were able to put our concepts into these blocks.

Now, rather than brainstorming individual elements or attributes,  it’s time to come up with complete designs. Through four hour-long rounds of brainstorming, during which each of us have to come up with 15 designs, our objective is to use each element listed under our design blocks at least once. Playing off of each other for new ideas, we will ultimately have all the designs that can potentially be included in next week’s Pugh analysis. Our goal will be to quantitatively evaluate the qualitative characteristics of about five designs to determine which one will eventually become our prototype.

Quique’s First Week Reflections

As the first week of EDAAC draws to a close, I think about all that has been accomplished. Despite the fact we only learned two weeks ago that we’d be a part of this program, we’ve already jumped into the project. It can be daunting to think that we’ll be able to devise a useable solution for painting storage and transport. As this is the second year of EDAAC, we can look to last year’s results and see that they were able to achieve success, so we should also be able to do the same. Since we are tackling a different problem than last year’s team, this gives us the ability to follow our own path and create unbiased solutions.
Although we’ve spent the week learning about the problem and how to use the engineering design process to solve it, the most important work we’ve done has been developing as a team. Our team is made up of people with different ideas and backgrounds, as we represent majors including Bioengineering, Art History, Chemical Engineering and Anthropology. We all have something from our areas of expertise to contribute to this mutually foreign project. Not only do we come from different backgrounds, but we’ve never worked together before. Since we only have nine weeks to complete this project, we need to constantly work on our team skills, which we accomplish every morning as we always start off with a teambuilding exercise.
Despite the amount of learning and research we’ve already done, we’re all anxious to learn about the specifics of the project. Perhaps when we actually see the pieces of art that we’ll be dealing with, everything will begin to fall into place. It won’t feel as complete as when we finish, but at least we’ll know what we’re shooting for.

Recap of Week 9: Concluding the Internship

For the final week of our internship, we were racing to the finish–trying to get everything done just in time. Our to-do list was quite lengthy at the start of the week, but we managed to accomplish everything by the end.

On Monday, we met at the MFAH to make final precise measurements of the art pieces and take some more pictures. To start off Tuesday, we scheduled out the rest of the week so that everything would get done. We attended the weekly Center for Civic Engagement fellows meeting where we learned the specifics of giving a good PowerPoint or poster presentation from Dr. Deborah Barrett, Director of the Program for Communication Excellence. The Cain Project, established at Rice University, is a great source of information on this topic and can be utilized to find poster templates. Although all of us feel comfortable giving exceptional presentations due to years of experience, this presentation about presentations was a good refresher.

The remainder of Tuesday was primarily spent sending out orders for supplies. We ordered supplies from Regal Plastics Inc., McMaster Carr online, The Strap Store of Houston, and a couple of other sources.

On Wednesday, we received some of our structural framing materials and began making test frames. As part of the iteration process of our prototyping, we realized that a few parts were not sufficient for our designs and decided to modify one of our orders. We also made test silicone molds in the Wet Lab, leaving ample time for these to set. A large portion of the day was also spent working on the business plan for our Innovation Norway class. By the end of Wednesday, the business plan for ArtArmor had been masterfully completed, including sections for executive summary, product overview, market analysis, marketing strategy, critical risks, and the company management. That afternoon, Caleb picked up the plastics order from Regal Plastics and Rhodes retreived the order of straps.

By Thursday, more and more materials were pouring into the Design Kitchen. We continued to test the framing components and assess what materials were still needed. Caleb worked on the plaster and mold for the Head of a Child piece, Nicole created the hanger element for History Dress # 1, Kristi formed the mold for the bottom of The Bronco Buster, and Rhodes planned out design dimensions for all of the pieces using CAD. We also spent some time designing the poster for our project.

Before heading to class, Rhodes and Caleb worked on elevator pitches for ArtArmor, LLC. These 90 second pitches were then presented before the entire class and a partner from the DFJ Mercury venture capitalist firm. Both elevator pitches included humorous and informative components that were well-received by the rest of the class and instructors. During the remainder of the class, Ned Hill, Managing Director of DFJ Mercury, presented on every possible detail of term sheets.

Friday, the last day of July, marked the final day of the internship and it turned out to be the busiest of the entire 9 weeks. The epic day consisted of cutting and polishing the framing beams, cutting the sides and bottoms to size, creating the final silicone molds, and finally building our housing solution prototypes. We all utilized the machine shop and tools to finalize the prototypes. A few more final materials were picked up as the building progressed. Our final solutions will be unveiled at a later date, but for now we are quite proud of the ultimate outcomes of our project. After a long last day spent at the Design Kitchen, we celebrated the conclusion of our internship. The endless hours of research, hundreds of ideas, and weeks spent designing modular housing solutions for the MFAH’s art pieces had surmised into impressive prototypes. This is not the end, however, as we will be presenting our work this Fall and our endeavors will be wrapped into the class taught this Fall semester by Dr. Wettergreen. Although the summer internship has ended for EDAAC, you will definitely be hearing more from us in the future.

Recap of Week 8

On Monday, we began to make final decisions about materials and vendors for these materials. We spent a lot of time researching different suppliers online, and pricing different products. During this process, we realized that there were a lot of details about how our designs worked that we hadn’t yet decided on. This slowed down the process of selecting to what to buy, since we weren’t really sure how to make these decisions. We learned that there is less certainty in engineering design than we had originally thought. We continued this research on Tuesday, and also called different companies to gain more information about their products and services.

The Technology Entrepreneurship Workshop ran from Wednesday to Thursday, and was a 2 day “boot-camp” for people who are interested in starting their own businesses. The workshop not only involved the members of our Innovation Norway course, but also members of the community. The course covered everything from how to give an elevator pitch to how to write and business plan, and how to gain the interest of investors like venture capitalists and angel investors.

On Friday, we took a trip to Lowe’s in order to get a better idea of what different parts looked like in real life, since we had been looking at everything online. It was nice to be able to see what the different pieces of hardware were called and more specifically how they worked. Then, in order to increase our work efficiency, we divided up the tasks. Caleb and Rhodes went to Regal Plastics to check out the different options they had available, and Kristi and Nicole stayed behind and worked on finalizing the shopping list for materials.

Recap of Week 6

We started this week by taking another look at our key components spreadsheet, and making sure that all our viable ideas from our note cards were represented. We printed out copies of our spreadsheet, and used them to help us in our next step of the brainstorming process.

We then began to do more note card style brainstorming, this time coming up with more complete ideas, and having our specific art pieces in mind. We referenced our spreadsheet to make sure we addressed all the different design blocks. Each of us came up with very different ideas, since our pieces have a wide-range of needs. We each came up with 15 ideas during this step, and presented our ideas to the others when we were finished, as well as to Dr. Matthew Wettergreen and Grace Rodriguez, who gave us valuable feedback to help us with our ideas.

For our next step, we once again came up with 15 ideas, but this time we focused on modularity and general solutions, rather than solutions tailored to our specific pieces. We still focused on utilizing our design blocks, but the ideas that we generated were very different from the previous round. After this round of brainstorming, we went through our spreadsheet to make sure every design idea had been used at least once. We wrote a list of the ideas that hadn’t been used yet, and referenced this list during our next round, in which we once again generated 15 ideas each.

Before attending our Innovation Norway class on Thursday, we needed to have a rough draft of a market analysis section for our business plan assignment. We did some further research about museums in the United States, and made use of the research we had already done for our Design Analysis Phase Report, in which we extensively examined companies that offer similar products. We also did a final push in our brainstorming, each coming up with 3 realistic ideas that focused on modularity and the use of silicone.

Recap of Week 5

This week, we started our first round of brainstorming. On Monday, we did a warm-up exercise by brainstorming a team name. We thought of a lot of different ideas, from inno-crate to texo-skeleton. We had a time limit on our brainstorming, but we hadn’t chosen a final name yet, so we quickly combined all our ideas into ARTadillo-Inno-Crate-a-Pod. At a later time, we researched which of our name ideas were already company names, in order to narrow our options. Our final decision was ArtArmor.

Our next step was to start brainstorming ideas for our actual project. We each got a stack of 100 blank note cards, and had one hour to write an idea on each one. The ideas didn’t have to be complete or realistic, but we did have to fill out all 100 cards. We then color coded our cards to indicate who came up with each idea, and shuffled them together in a complete stack. Then we each took a section of the stack and read through the ideas, and wrote any additional ideas that we generated.

On Tuesday, we took all our 500 note cards and taped them up on the glass walls of the conference room in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). Initially, we taped all of them up in random order. Then, we re-organized them into four categories: materials, features, concepts, and geometry. We then broke these down further into more detailed categories. This enabled us to find overlaps in our brainstorming, and access our ideas more easily.

Once we had organized all our ideas, we went through the different categories and tried to brainstorm any more ideas that we could, if we thought of something that was missing. We also looked for trends in our categories that would become our “design blocks.” The intial design blocks were outside shape, interface with object, human interaction, and technologies. These were later broken down into more specific categories, and a materials aspect was added, as we compiled all our ideas into a key componets spreadsheet.

Recap of Week 4

The main goal of week four was to refine and complete our design and analysis phase report. All of Monday was dedicated to this report.
On Tuesday, we had an extended meeting at the MFAH with Julie Bakke and Wynne Phelan. During this meeting they answered most of the remaining questions needed to complete our report. These questions were about the specifics of our piece selections. They related to us materials that absolutely could not be used in our storage device as well as some materials that would be preferred or acceptable. After this they took us to see all of the pieces. We then took further data as to the structural dimensions of each piece and determined approximate weight and materials. We also discussed more specifically the concerns related to each piece and the history behind the art.

Tuesday afternoon, we attended the weekly Center for Civic Engagement Fellows meeting. At this meeting, Dr. Stephen Klineberg spoke about “The Changing Face of Houston.”
On Wednesday, we compiled the information we received from the MFAH and incorporated it into the report. In the afternoon, Anthony Locastro and Ben Esquivel gave us a tour of 360 Art Services. 360 Art Services is an art packing and crating company in Houston. It is currently one of the companies that is being used by the MFAH. On this tour we received an inside look at how some pieces of art are being stored for transport. Because the pieces come in all different shapes and sizes 360 must consider each piece separately and listen to the needs of their client to properly customize a crate and safely ship each piece. 360 uses a variety of archivally-safe materials and their crates are currently a recognizable red with the 360 logo.

360 Art Services

360 Art Services

On Thursday, we had a question and answers meeting with Dr. Corey Rogge, of the Rice University Chemistry Department, where she answered the remainder of our questions. All of these questions were very specific to the materials that our pieces are each made out of and how these materials degrade, outgass, are conserved, and effect other materials around them. Dr. Rogge also gave us some historical accounts about the science of conservation. It is interesting to note that much was learned from the opening of King Tutankhamun tomb in Egypt by observing how those ancient artifacts had been preserved for centuries underground.

Thursday afternoon, we attended our second Innovation Norway Entrepreneurship class. During this class we recapped reading from The Innovators Dilemma and The Art of the Start. After the recap, Michael Lowe, President and CEO of OrthoAccel Technologies Inc., gave a presentation on the history of his startup company and how they are reaching for success. Along with his history he gave helpful advice as to how to organize and start your own business based on solid ideas and good communication.

Friday, James Springer, of the Library Services Center, gave us a tour of the off site storage for Rice’s Fondren Library collection. They have a modular storage system organized by size. Every book and box is barcoded and shelved. Their storage is climate controlled and all of the books are stored in custom built acid free cardboard shelving units. This storage system has proved to be very efficient and space saving, and is the type of storage Julie Bakke has relayed to us that she would like for the museum.

Rice Library Service Center Storage

Rice Library Service Center Storage

Recap of Week 3

Our third week of the internship consisted of many hours dedicated to research and the refinement of our comprehensive report, which covers everything pertinent to our project. The outline for this report was expanded to encapsulate all of the issues that we need to address. The outline and report include topics on preventive conservation, our mission statement, what current solutions exist at the museum, why a better solution is needed, design objectives, design constraints, materials information, and finally the forces driving the design. These categories are a part of the engineering design process and will facilitate our transition to the design phase in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, we attended our weekly meeting for the Community for Civic Engagement Summer Fellows. Dr. Kellie Butler, Director of the Office of Fellowships and Undergraduate Research, presented on available scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students to travel and study abroad. More information can be found at the Rice Fellowships website.

Caroline Collective sponsored a blood drive Wednesday. All four of us donated blood to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, including two who had never donated before. On Thursday, we attended our Innovation Norway class in the Jones School of Business. During this class, we recapped the Rice Alliance Life Science Technology Venture Forum and Gray Hancock lectured on how to build an effective business plan. On Friday, we struggled to get our first paychecks. Unfortunately, two of us could not receive our checks and we got an insipid taste of bureaucracy.

Throughout the week, we worked diligently on researching rapid prototyping and 3D scanning as well as creating a materials database. Our materials database includes all of the vital characteristics of materials that we might utilize in our design including chemical properties, what it can and can’t go with, physical properties, cost, and other characteristics. We have also designed a second matrix that contains all of the materials of our pieces on one side and the potential materials of our solution on the other side. The chart includes positive and negative signs to designate what materials can be used together and what materials should be avoided together. Along with our comprehensive report, the materials research should enable us to enter the design phase with all tools and applicable information documented.

Recap of Week 2

The Monday of our second week was dedicated to further research about conservation, both online and in print. On Tuesday, we were given a presentation by Dr. Matthew Wettergreen, our project coordinator, about the Engineering Design Process. We also wrote a mission statement for our team.

Julie Bakke, Chief Registrar of MFAH, gave us a tour of both the museum’s off-site storage facilities on Wednesday. During our tour, we witnessed preparators packing art for transportation, loading it onto a truck, and moving it to and from storage facilities. They offered us valuable insight into the process, and gave us information about the materials that they use. User feedback from preparators who handle art on a daily basis was extremely helpful to our understanding of the current state of need at the museum. We also got a behind-the-scenes look at a conservation lab, where restorative conservation was taking place.

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to attend The Life Science Technology Venture Forum, hosted by Rice Alliance. Here we witnessed many elevator pitches and business plan proposals, and heard two keynote speakers. We, along with other students in the Innovation Norway course, scored each elevator pitch and business plan, as did official judges. Both the top three and bottom four ratings of the  elevator pitches were the same for the students and the panel of judges. To hear more about the things we saw at the Forum, visit our Discussion Recap post, or Dr. Wettergreen’s response.

On Friday, we had the chance to write our own elevator pitch for our project. We also started outlining our Design Analysis Phase report, which encompasses all our research thus far, and will be used as a reference during future stages of the design process.