February 29, 2016

McMinnville High School’s Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam’s Mid-Grant Technical Review was extremely successful and was shared with more than 40 community members and engineers. We received helpful feedback on our project as community leaders and mentors alike learned more about Nepal, their current needs of refugees, and about our refugee shelter solution.

The biggest question that community members asked us was how we are going to economically transport our project to Nepal. Although our team has several ideas on how to address this question, we do not yet have a clear solution and need to further investigate different means of transportation. Another point that was brought up was whether or not using rope, or other soft-body materials, to hold up our shelter would work better instead of our current design. Additionally, more pros and cons of using bamboo as a building material were also addressed. As mentioned on one of our feedback forms, we need to “test and fail early - break and find out what needs work” for the next season of our project. To follow this advice, our team will design, create, and test more prototypes to examine the strengths and weakness of multiple materials, shapes, and techniques brought up by our audience. Regarding our financial status, our team is on track with purchasing materials for prototyping and plans to heavily test our ideas in March. We plan to build several copies of our final invention to use for testing purposes.

Community members posted new ideas and problems on our brainstorming Post-it note board to ensure that we could have a visual representation of their valuable feedback. Our board was an idea-generating tool inspired by Autodesk’s User Experience Groups to organize our design thought processes and research. We have found this tool invaluable for our project due to the scope of the challenges we face.  At the Mid-Grant Technical Review, community members were given the opportunity to visibly understand what ideas we have already thought of as well as leave new ideas, comments, and/or possible problems that could arise.

Furthermore, our contact from a local church organization, McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, was very impressed with our project and saw potential with our project regarding the local homeless population. They graciously volunteered to help test our shelter by distributing prototypes to needy individuals. In addition, one of our team members will be testing our platform live on a Mexico missions trip during Spring Break.

Overall, most members of our community are excited about our progress and gave new, helpful suggestions to further extend our project’s reach and improve our design.

Recently, MIT representatives and mentors came to our school and listened to our shortened presentation. They recommended a few local contacts such as Oregon State University's natural resource department as well as other engineers to help test our design. They recommended the new weekly deadline-“a prototype a week”- for the next two months and to have built our next full scale prototype by Spring Break. The future of our project will consist heavily of strenuous testing and speedy prototyping.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more updates! Contact us at mhslemelsonmit@gmail.com for questions, comments, and ideas!