Meeting of the Minds, Carnegie Mellon’s annual undergraduate student research symposium was held on May 7, 2009. From disciplines across the campus, over 400 students exhibited their research projects through poster sessions, oral presentations, demonstrations, and art installations. This year’s theme was “Ideas Bubbling.” View a slideshow of photos from some of the students’ exhibits.
All together, seven Design students and five Design faculty participated in eight multidisciplinary projects:
Defne Civelekoglu and Nadeem Haidary (both Industrial Design, class of 2009): “Tails.” Advisor: Stephen Stadelmeier.
Many of the major conflicts in the world are fueled by a lack of intercultural understanding. People don't take interest in cultures that are different than their own. The best way to defeat this ethnocentrism is by targeting the next generations. We see value in applying design methods to this problem, using tangible artifacts to address the lack of cultural understanding. Our objective is to represent the world's cultures through a set animals that are significant to the geographical regions of those cultures. Each animal is crafted to visually portray the materials and the personality of their assigned culture while still maintaining a cohesive appearance for the set. This approach would give people, especially children, a glimpse of the similarities and differences in the world around them.
Animals are without preconceived political associations and they provide a medium that children want to interact and play with. These interactions can be the building blocks to a cultural knowledge that can be enriched through zoos, museums, books, and travel. Support materials, a booklet and a web site, will create this continuity between Tails and the existing resources. While serving the global community, Tails also benefits designers in multiple ways. We will be challenged to study for m language in a scale we never have before, distilling the visual qualities embedded in countless artifacts over hundreds of years. This process will undoubtedly increase our own knowledge about the world and increase our skill in crafting objects by hand. Tails will bring a renewed interest in craftsmanship and culture to the industrial design field, which has largely forgotten its deep historical roots.
Christopher Peh-Chen Chien (Industrial Design, class of 2010): “Why is Grandma Green? A Study of Environmental Practices in Asia.” Advisor: Melissa Cicozi.
“Wasteful” is a term that applies to Americans within the global context. Only recently have Americans become more environmentally conscious and “green.” For this project, I studied Taiwan for inspiration on ways to become more environmentally friendly. Last summer, I documented my trip to Taiwan with photos and notes. I interviewed local people and their recycling methods, visited recycling centers, and saw how “huan bao,” ¬the Taiwanese term for “saving the earth,” pervades everyday life. This research project evaluates these environmental practices and suggests how to improve the current environmental crisis.
Andrea Irwin (Industrial Design, class of 2009): “Material Selection and Process Using Digital Fabrication.” Advisor: Wayne Chung.
Freshman year one of my professors, Steve Stadelmeier, pulled me aside and talked for nearly half an hour about this whisk constructed from plant fiber. He told me it was happy because the material was “doing what it wanted.” Steve continued this was why, despite all the advances in material science, the simple, natural solution prevailed. Three years later and still have yet to forget that man's fascination with this whisk.
Materials are a key decision in the design of a product yet due to time constraints and project deadlines students are rarely given the luxury of comparison. To that end, I am exploring the natural benefits and detriments of several different materials using nontraditional fabrication methods in the architectural Digital Fabrication Lab located in the third basement of Margaret Morrison. As a designer, this exploration will play a key role in my understanding of the qualities and capabilities when making selections in the future. Beyond my own gain, given that the facility is quite new, I hope to provide my work as an example of the capabilities of the shop and available materials. I will also work in direct contact with the shop manager, Zach Ali, to work off of his expertise and submit the digital files and notes to the online fabrication communities for the betterment of the larger design world.
Victoriya Kovalchuk (BHA, Communication Design and Creative Writing, class of 2009): “Fictional Autobiography.” Advisor: Timothy Haggerty, Director, Humanities Scholars Program.
My senior project is an integration and exhibition of my two fields of study at Carnegie Mellon; communication design and creative writing. My stories and poetry is heavily autobiographical but even though it is fictionalized beyond truth or actual events, there are certain emotional truths that all of my writing explores. I am compiling a small book of my writings as linked stories, designing the book itself, then producing it (printing and hand binding it). The end result is an object that embodies both writing and design, and it will symbolize my education at Carnegie Mellon as an undergraduate.
Nicholas Hagelin and Federico Rios (Industrial Design students, class of 2011), “Gadget Jackets.”
In Gadget Jackets, we design and create a series of jackets that allow the user to comfortably carry all of their essential belongings. We want to find a reasonable alternative for users who sacrifice comfort on short trips and daily commutes. Today’s consumer lifestyle mandates we carry many indispensable items on our person, such as PDAs, cell phones, wallets, keys, MP3 players, pocketbooks, etc, but often times those items aren’t large enough to justify the use of a large and cumbersome bag or backpack. We plan to approach this issue by conceptually developing a line of jackets with modular, attachable parts, that would combine their form with function by allowing the user to carry all of their daily objects¬–¬reducing the need for extra luggage and protecting the person from the elements.
Federico Rios (Industrial Design, class of 2011), Jacob Beatty (ICES), Mana Heshmati (ICES), “Crank That.” Advisor: Susan Finger, Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Through the application of a mechanism that demonstrates the process of transforming rotational energy into linear energy, young students will learn about mechanical advantage. This mechanism includes a crank and gear system. When the crank is turned, the gear will lift a rack which holds a weight. The weight is too heavy to be lifted by hand, but when using the mechanism, students will realize that it is easy to overcome the forces of gravity. This project teaches the importance of mechanical advantage, and how through turning a set of gears that are attached to a rack, rotational energy can be transferred into linear motion.
Luther Young III (Industrial Design, class of 2010): “Mapping My CMU.” Advisors: Wayne Chung, Mark Mentzer. (Mr. Young is studying abroad this semester and was not able to attend the symposium in person but did have his research project accepted.)
Every student at Carnegie Mellon has a unique way that they navigate campus. After receiving the questionnaires from 50 different students, illustrations, animations and models were developed to indicate the way that the students navigated campus.
Two Design faculty members served as advisors for research projects related to their fields:
In describing the Meeting of the Minds symposium, Undergraduate Research Office Director Stephanie Wallach says, “Nothing really captures the mission of Carnegie Mellon better than research—and nothing better expresses the diverse ways our campus engages in research across the disciplines than Meeting of the Minds. It is a great Carnegie Mellon tradition.”
Indira Nair, Vice Provost for Education, adds, “For decades now, Carnegie Mellon has been a national leader in offering our undergraduates unique opportunities in foundational and applied research and in creative work in all fields though our undergraduate research program. Students can explore important questions, learn advanced techniques and be challenged creatively in their field. Meeting of the Minds showcases these experiences through a university-wide celebration.”
Meeting of the Minds is an opportunity for all members of our campus community to see firsthand the many ways students at Carnegie Mellon are changing our world.
View the complete Meeting of the Minds 2009 program (PDF)
Posted on May 27, 2009