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.
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.
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
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
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.
Today we attended the first lecture for the Innovation Norway course in entrepreneurship.
To start the course, we did a brief overview of the Rice Alliance Life Science Technology Ventures Forum. We discussed the best and the worst elevator pitches.
In general, the highest rated elevator pitches were all very personable and relatable. They each stated what the product was, who the target audience was, why their audience would want it, and finally they all clearly stated what they wanted as far as investors and money. The lowest rated speeches tended to be difficult to understand. This was either because they were too technical or simply poorly explained. Most of these forgot to mention what they wanted or how there product would be useful. One of the speeches even failed to mention what he sold. It is also interesting to note that the top and bottom three were the same for both the professional judges as well as the student judges.
This main lecture in this course went into detail about how to write a business plan. This included all of the topics that should be mentioned. In writing a business plan it is also important not only to write it for the well being of the company, but also to appeal to any possible financers. In making a business plan there are two big rules of thumb to follow. The first is that you must ensure credibility. This includes referrencing your entire business plan and making sure that all of your referrences are reliable and recent. Secondly no matter what business you are going into or how new your product is, you must always have competition. Competition, although it appears to be a bad thing, it is possibly one of the best things for your company. Competition shows that your idea and business is a good one that there is already a need for what you are selling, only your business is going to make it better. Along with all the necessary mechanics of the business plan, these two rules of thumb contribute to making your business look attractive to financers as well as giving you a strong guide to where your company is and where it is going.