2018 IDEA Sandbox Stories - Xiaoyi (Patrice) Dong

By Carson Deveau

 

For Xiaoyi (Patrice) Dong, the 2018 IDEA Sandbox boot camp really made her open her eyes when it comes to designing a product.

Dong is a third year design student at NSCAD University, and said whenever she would be designing products for projects in school, she would be solely focused on improving her designs as opposed to focusing on improving the designs to help make the product fit the customer’s needs.

“The boot camp helped me understand a lot more about the working process of actually creating a product. It also made me realize that it doesn’t matter how good my design is, it’s not useful if it doesn’t help the customer do what they need to do,” she said.

During the six-week long boot camp, Dong sharpened her designing skills as well as learned more about the business side of creating a new product if you are trying to bring it to market. Dong also learned how to work with people from other educational disciplines, as she had to work with engineers and business students on the boot camp’s two final projects and said that it was one of her favourite parts about the IDEA Sandbox.

“I really enjoyed all of the collaborative work we did. It’s very interesting to see what business students and engineers know, and see how they look at a problem and try to solve it.”

Dong said the boot camp provide a unique experience for her that she could never receive in school and was glad she decided to apply for it.

“You will be so surprised with what you actually do while you’re at the boot camp, and you’ll be proud of what you’re capable of by the time the six weeks ends. You will find new strengths, discover a new way of looking at a problem, and meet a lot of great people. It is a choice that I will never regret.”  

Xiaoyi (Patrice) Dong presents of the final prototypes of her final project to IDEA Sandbox instructors and participants. 

Xiaoyi (Patrice) Dong presents of the final prototypes of her final project to IDEA Sandbox instructors and participants. 

2018 IDEA Sandbox Stories - Colin MacIntosh

By Carson Deveau

 

            When Colin MacIntosh applied for the IDEA Sandbox boot camp, he did so because he wanted to learn about Start-Up companies, and the process it takes to create one.

            “I was hoping to learn about Start-Ups to see if I were something I was interested in or not in the future,” he said

Little did MacIntosh realize that he was going to be exposed too much more than that.

            MacIntosh is a third year engineering student at Dalhousie and was notified about the six-week long innovation boot camp by his instructor Holly Pharaoh, who is one of the instructors at the boot camp. Throughout the boot camp, MacIntosh was forced to work with students from other educational backgrounds, as design students from NSCAD University and business students from the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie were both participating in the boot camp as well, and was exposed to their different perspectives of how they solve an issue.

            “I enjoyed working with the students from different educational backgrounds. It teaches you how to better work with a team on a project because not everyone is going to have the same skills and knowledge, so it forces everyone to work closely together to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

            Another thing that MacIntosh was exposed too during that boot camp that he had not been exposed to previously was design thinking when it comes to developing a product. Design thinking is a skill that he will take with him for the rest of his career, as it allows for him to generate ideas and solutions to a problem much quicker than before, MacIntosh said.

            “My eyes have been opened to the world of design, and the possibilities for innovation for both future products and for products that already exists as well.”

            With everything he learned, MacIntosh said the boot camp was a very useful experience and one that he’s glad he decided to take part in.

            “The skills learned are very applicable to both the academic, and working, world. The boot camp teaches you to think about products differently than I have ever been before. So it was definitely a great way to spend six weeks if you ask me.” 

Colin MacIntosh presents his idea for a new board game to the instructors of the IDEA Sandbox boot camp. 

Colin MacIntosh presents his idea for a new board game to the instructors of the IDEA Sandbox boot camp. 

2018 IDEA Sandbox Stories - Taylor Roe

By Carson Deveau

When Taylor Roe applied for the IDEA Sandbox boot camp, she expected it to be a unique experience that she would be able to learn from and get paid to do. What she didn’t expect was that she might find her future career from the boot camp.

Roe, a second year engineering student at Dalhousie University, originally applied for the boot camp after her professors, Holly Pharaoh and Cliff Johnston, told her about it and said she would be a good fit.

“To have the opportunity to work with my professors, other engineering students, and students from other disciplines, was an opportunity that I had never had before so I had to do it.”  

During her time in the boot camp, Roe learned about product design and the development process it takes to bring an idea to an actual product that can be sold on the market. Roe also gained a lot of other valuable skills related to product design, such as benchmarking techniques, vacuum forms, and design programs.

Though before the boot camp Roe had no intentions on working in the product development world once she graduates from Dalhousie in a few years, she said that might have changed.

“Now I have skills surrounding product development that I could use effectively to help bring an idea to life. So, I could maybe see a future in product development once I complete my degree.”

 Looking back in the boot camp, Roe created and designed a collaborative building game called “Mad Stax’”, as well as created and designed a new toy that would help children with ADHD focus more easily in school.

Roe enjoyed working with her group members on each of these projects, and said the other people who were in the boot camp were what really made the six-week experience so special and memorable.

“I was able to meet a lot of new, great, people and make great friendships with them, something that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t join the boot camp.” 

Taylor Roe, right, presents her idea for a board game to her fellow IDEA Sandbox boot camp participants. 

Taylor Roe, right, presents her idea for a board game to her fellow IDEA Sandbox boot camp participants. 

2018 IDEA Sandbox Stories - Paul Guardia

By Carson Deveau

 

To Paul Guardia, applying for the IDEA Sandbox boot camp was a no brainer.           

“You get great hands on experience learning about how to design, and the process that goes into it, get exposed to the way other disciplines think, and you get paid. There wasn’t a reason me for not to do it,” he said.

 Guardia is an interdisciplinary design student at NSCAD University and heard about the boot camp from his professor Glen Hougan, who is one of the instructors at the boot camp.

Guardia originally wanted to apply for the boot camp to work on his design thinking skills, as well as wanted the opportunity to work with students with engineering and business backgrounds.

“Working with other disciplines was probably one of my favourite aspects about the boot camp. Being exposed to their different perspectives and seeing how they looked at a problem compared to me was very interesting.”

 As he continues to work towards getting his interdisciplinary design degree from NSCAD University, Guardia is unsure what the future holds for him once he graduates. Though he has never truly considered a career in it, Guardia said the boot camp exposed him to aspects of being an entrepreneur that he enjoyed, and now he could maybe see himself becoming one later on in life.

“I could see myself becoming an entrepreneur for sure. There is still a lot of knowledge and skills that come with being your own boss that I have to learn, like management, sales, communications, etc., but at least I now know it’s something I like doing.”   

Paul Guardia, middle, presents his idea for a board game to his instructors and fellow participants of the 2018 IDEA Sandbox boot camp. 

Paul Guardia, middle, presents his idea for a board game to his instructors and fellow participants of the 2018 IDEA Sandbox boot camp. 

2018 IDEA Sandbox Stories - Nour Houdeib

By Carson Deveau

 

Nour Houdeib never planned on applying for the IDEA Sandbox boot camp, but just kind of stumbled upon it.

Houdeib, a second year engineering student at Dalhousie, had heard about the boot camp from one of her professors Holly Pharoah, one of the instructors of the boot camp, but had never planned on applying for it.          

“I was looking for a job that would last all summer, not just six weeks (which the boot camp runs), so I never really considered it,” she said.

Houdeib did end up getting a job for the summer, as Dalhousie engineering professor Cliff Johnston hired her to do research in his lab. Unfortunately for Houdeib, due to the construction going on around the Dalhousie Sexton campus, the labs weren’t ready to conduct research in time. So Johnston, who is another instructor of the IDEA Sandbox, enrolled her in the six week long boot camp.

As the boot camp enters its’ final week, Houdeib couldn’t thank Johnston enough for enrolling her.

“The (IDEA) Sandbox is such a good learning experience that showed me some perspectives about product design and the ideation process that I wouldn’t have thought of before.”

Throughout her time in the boot camp, Houdeib has worked with other engineering students, as well as students with design and business backgrounds, on a variety of projects. This includes creating and designing her own board game, and her final project, which is to create a more ergonomic diaper bag for parents.

“Working with students from different programs helped me with my decision making skills, as they were able to think about things that I normally wouldn’t be whenever it comes to a product because I’m use to working with other engineers and the ways we think.”

  Because of the boot camp, Houdeib said she has learned how to benchmark more effectively for a new product, how to come up with ideas easier and faster, as well as developed better social skills to be able to actual talk to people to figure out their problems and how to design a better product to help them.

 Looking into the future, Houdeib is unsure what exactly she wants to do once she graduates Dalhousie, but said the IDEA Sandbox boot camp has given her a lot of skills and knowledge to go forward with, including some for her to become an entrepreneur and run her own business.

“I never really thought of it before. But after the boot camp I will have a few entrepreneur skills like knowing the difference between actual value and perceived value, understanding the production process of a new idea, as well as better leadership skills, so who knows.” 

Nour Houdeib, left, presents her idea for a board game to the IDEA Sandbox instructors and fellow participants. 

Nour Houdeib, left, presents her idea for a board game to the IDEA Sandbox instructors and fellow participants. 

Designing a Rabbit Feeder - 1st Week Project

By Carson Deveau

 

During the first week of this year’s IDEA Sandbox boot camp, to help the participants get in the headspace of design thinking and product development, instructor Holly Pharaoh tasked the students up with an idea for a new feeding system for her pet rabbit, and then had to build a rough prototype of the design.

The students were placed into small groups of three or four, and were only given the afternoon to come up with their designs and prototypes.

The goal of the assignment was to not produce a feeder that Pharaoh could actually take home and use with her pet rabbit, even though she did take a few home to try out, but was to give an introduction to the type of problems students would be dealing with while in the six week long boot camp. As well, the assignment was the first group exercise that the students had to complete for the boot camp, so it served as a good icebreaker to get to know the other participants. 

Florent Herbinger (right) presents his idea for a rabbit feeder to his instructor, Holly Pharaoh, to see if her pet rabbit would eat out of it.

Florent Herbinger (right) presents his idea for a rabbit feeder to his instructor, Holly Pharaoh, to see if her pet rabbit would eat out of it.

2018 IDEA Sandbox Stories - Emilio Marcovici

By Carson Deveau

 

Emilio Marcovici is a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and has spent time working at a technology start-up company in order to gain knowledge about what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

During his time at the start-up, the third-year commerce student at Dalhousie University realized that he needed more education about the industry if he was going to pursue becoming an entrepreneur in the future.

One of the major things Marcovici realized that he needed was to further develop his product development skills and the process it takes to bring an idea to market.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot of available courses that offer this type of training,” Marcovici said.

Fortunately for Marcovici, though there was not a course that focused on product development he could take, there was a boot camp he could apply for.                     Marcovici became aware about the IDEA Sandbox boot camp from an email sent from the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie, and decided to apply for it after one of his professors thought it would be good for him.                  

Throughout the six-week long boot camp, Marcovici worked on a number of projects and tasks that has helped him on his way to becoming an entrepreneur. From learning how to manage a team with diverse skill-sets, to learning more about how design factors into a project, to improving his knowledge and skills around product development, Marcovici has gained a lot in six, short, weeks and is thankful his professor encouraged him to apply for the boot camp.

“I consider the IDEA Sandbox (boot camp) to be one of the most useful activities I have taken part in while at Dalhousie. It has exceeded my expectations in every way, and would highly recommend to other students.”

After going through the boot camp, Marcovici has gained skills that will help him as he continues to work to become an entrepreneur, but realizes that this is just the beginning for him.

“I know there are certain things (about becoming an entrepreneur) that I still have to learn, like how the industry works and stuff like that, but the IDEA Sandbox boot camp has definitely got me closer.” 

Emilio Marcovici (right) presents his group's board game "Ethical Issues" to the rest of the IDEA Sandbox boot camp. 

Emilio Marcovici (right) presents his group's board game "Ethical Issues" to the rest of the IDEA Sandbox boot camp. 

Beginning of Final Projects (2018 IDEA Sandbox)

The fourth week of the IDEA Sandbox boot camp saw the participants broken up into new groups for their final project. For their final projects, each groups is assigned a topic and is tasked with coming up with a new, innovative, way to improve upon products that are related to that topic.

The topics the participants will be working on are garden aids for people with limited strength/mobility, furniture to assist people with special needs, ergonomic furniture for infants, plogging (picking up trash while jogging) and improving barbeque cleaners.

During the beginning of the week, groups worked together to gather research about their topic. This included students reaching out to experts in their topic’s field and talking to people who live with these struggles for advice about what is currently out on the market for people to buy, and what improvements can be made to those products.

After conducting their research, students spent Friday morning building rough prototypes of a few of their ideas they had for their project. After prototyping and bringing their ideas to life all morning, each group presented their prototypes to the instructors to have them decide which idea they should pursue for their final project.  

Next week, the instructors will indicate to each group which prototype they will continue to improve upon, and work with for their final project, which will be presented on June 8th.  

Brandon Johnson (right) shows his idea for a new, innovative, BBQ cleaner. 

Brandon Johnson (right) shows his idea for a new, innovative, BBQ cleaner.