Millenium Falcon Wheelchair Finale

We started this project with the Magic Wheelchair Organization after one of our facilitators reached out to them on Twitter, and just like we were off! We split up into teams to divide and conquer and then got down to business. I was in the USCD (user-centered design) group, which focused all on our user and how the project will fill his every need and want. Our user was a 14-year-old boy, named Jared, who has cerebral palsy. He has few motor skills and is almost entirely blind. Aside from his unfortunate condition, he is a 14-year-old boy who loves 14-year-old boy things. He is obsessed with Chewbacca, and Star Wars in general; hence the design of the Millennium Falcon for the wheelchair. After getting to know and understand our user, we were able to make sure his voice was heard in all other groups. Along the way we faced MANY challenges but with a little teamwork and a lot of hard work the obstacles were behind us. Overall this project was enjoyable and challenging but in the best way possible. It taught me so many new things about joinery and wood to circuits and software. In the end, every frustrating second and difficult minute was worth it when we saw the happiness sweep across Jared’s face.

About the Author: My name is Alyssa Dautrich, and I am a ninth-grade student at Mount Vernon. I’ve been here since second grade so I’m no stranger! Outside of school, I like to sit in my bed and watch Netflix, and then watch some more Netflix. After binge-watching my shows, I enjoy spending time with friends and family and just relaxing. In school, however, I work hard in all my classes, especially in iDiploma. I joined iDiploma just this year and it is everything from creating a website all about you to planning, building, and actually making a replica of the Millennium Falcon!

Spark: The ID Convention

In my third year of Innovation Diploma, one of our facilitators tasked my team – Skylar, Melina, Mitch, Kylie, Anna, and Catherine – and I with hosting an event that brings creative people together for a talk. The goal of the internal design brief is to host an event entirely run by students and sponsor the ID name to hopefully get more design briefs from the wide variety of people that would come to this event. We started off thinking of creating another chapter of Creative Mornings to attach it to a well-known name, but then we pivoted into creating our own event called Spark to have more control and be confident in what we are doing. After pivoting, we put together a meeting with Mrs. Toller, who works at Mount Vernon, and can help us put on this event.
After talking with her, we created an executive summary that describes what our first opening doors event is going to be. Our goal is to plan an event that will bring in external experts from a variety of backgrounds who will have intentional conversations with each other about business, creativity, and education. We will be partnering with Allison Toller and Dr. Jacobsen and inviting two CEOs from the Business Chronicle’s 2017 Most Admired CEOs list to come and speak. We also hope to make connections with different companies and to advertise Innovation Diploma’s brand as a design firm to increase opportunities for future design briefs. Innovation Diploma members will be the students running, organizing, and hosting the event.
After creating the executive summary piece, we put together another meeting to show Mrs. Toller where our heads were at and how we were going to take the initiative in order to have this event become a reality. We also got together with Mr. Neylon to talk about potential places to host this event and how to make it look top notch. My team is currently working on a letter to send out to the CEOs that we are inviting and a landing page with an elevator pitch and a description. Our summary of the event looks something like this:
‘Come to Spark, a playground for intentional conversations, to listen and brainstorm ideas for meaningful speakers. Through this event, we will bring together a variety of students and adults from all over Atlanta to connect with and make an impact on your community.
Spark is an event hosted and created by students from Mount Vernon’s Innovation Diploma to bring a wide variety of students and adults together to enjoy creative talks. These talks will spark intentional conversations that will help brainstorm creative solutions for the speaker’s bugs or problems. Spark connects students with a wide variety of business leaders, non-profit organizers, and government officials from all over Atlanta.’
Working on this internal design brief has helped me not only appreciate how hard it is to host an event, but also how to go through the process of creating an event with a name, brand, or style. Even though this is tough work, my team and I are working diligently to get as much work done as possible to host this event as soon as possible. From this design brief, I have learned many different skills; from working in a big team setting to collaborating with important adults. I hope this event turns out to be as impactful and fun as I envision it in my head.

About the Author: Brady Vincent is in the Jobs cohort at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and is very interested in becoming a serial entrepreneur when he grows up. He is passionate about the Innovation Diploma program and is also driven to be a maverick by challenging the way things are done.

Musk Cohort Update

In the Freshman, Musk, cohort we are building a costume for a boy named Jared. However, since Jared is in a wheelchair, his costume is special. Instead of making him an ordinary costume, it is more like a playhouse of wheels. For Jared, we are building him the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. It is going to be four-foot wide diameter circle that he can roll into. On the inside, there is going to be a control panel with lots of buttons and lights that all make sound.

I am in the group that is making the frame for the whole thing. We are almost done with the whole project, but it has taken lots of hard work and we have had to overcome many challenges. There were problems with the material, the dimensions, the stability, and many more. After lot of thinking we were able to solve the problems. We are all very excited to unveil Jared’s costume to him later this month at Heros and Villians Con.

Jared is planning to take his costume to the Heros and Villians convention this weekend. This has put us on a very tight schedule. Being in the frame group, we have had a hard time staying on track of this deadline. There have been problems we have ran into along the way. At first, we didn’t realize the complexity of the engineering side of the build. Our first problem was finding the best material to use. We started with a plastic-like material, but it didn’t work because it was too flexible. Then we tried using expanded PVC but again, this material was still too flexible, so we moved on to using plywood. So far, the plywood has been working great and we are about done building the frame. We are wrapping the frame in the expanded PVC to make a outer layer.

The last thing needed is all the lights and sounds. There are two other groups of people who have been working very hard to make the Millennium Falcon really come to life. There are going to be lights lining the inside of the main part and a dashboard with buttons and levels that make noise and music play. Since Jared is blind, it is really important for us to get all the sound perfect – just like the movie. The challenging part is they have had some issues getting the sound board to work right. Fortunately, it started working late last week and there has been a lot of work done on it since.

This has been an amazing project that I got the awesome opportunity to be a part of. It has taken us about six weeks and it has been a lot of work to get where we are now. We are all very excited to show it to Jared at the Heros and Villians Convention.

Author: Emery Hoffman, Musk Cohort

MLK Exhibit Reflection

It is hard to comprehend that one quarter of my sophomore year is already complete. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in the hive in the first i-Diploma class ever. Up to this date, I have not only learned many new skills, but I have also made new connections, created a Linkedin profile, gained knowledge on the DEEP process of innovative problem solving and started on my first official design brief. I was unsure what to expect when I started working with my team on the design brief for the Center for Civil and Human Rights; however, after a couple of days, my uncertainty was subdued. Our group began with the inspiration of making an exhibit about MLK, which will be shown to thousands in the Center for Civil and Human Rights. We quickly got in contact with the head curator and head of education at the CCHR. Centered around the narrative of MLK’s lasting impact on his “six pillars,” we were told to plan, design and install an interactive exhibit for May of 2018. The best way to describe the sensation is mind-boggling. I was blown away to think that we are going to make something which will be showcased on a world-class level. So far we have: assembled our team, hosted a client meeting, set expectations with our client, made a brief timeline, and done some initial surface level research into the topic. I am still wondering how we will get it all done.

All in all, I don’t think I could have asked for a better experience thus far. I love the Innovation Diploma and the people who are apart of it. I have grown a lot in the short time that I have been apart of this team, and I hope to continue to develop. I am very fortunate to be apart of this tight-knit community, and I look forward to the future and what it holds for me.

About the author: Oliver Schouest is a member of Innovation Diploma, currently in the Must cohort.