Encapsulating Brown In a Day

As part of Brown University's 250th Celebration, students came together on Saturday, September 27, in the Brown Design Workshop in Prince Lab for an all-day Design Workshop. The theme of the design challenge was, 'Brown Encapsulated,' and students were challenged with re-imagining a 'time capsule'. What could be created to capture small representations of Brown culture and society now to revisit in the future?

This workshop focused on design concepts and hands-on design, showcasing team-based, experiential learning. Fourteen students participated in the day-long event. After receiving an overview of the challenge, students began discussing the design process. They formed teams, but members continued to shift between groups as they generated ideas, shared feedback, and began sketching models.

Throughout the workshop, students continued to iterate, design new prototypes, and share feedback with each other to refine their ideas. Later in the day, each group presented its work to a group of alumni and President Christina Paxson.

After more making and mini-crits, each group gave a final presentation and discussed their work.

Tommy Jung '15 demonstrates 8x8 LED matrixTommy Jung '15 demonstrates 8x8 LED matrix

One of the three groups consisted of Tommy Jung '15 (Computer Engineering) and Zainab Soetan '18 (Engineering), who worked on an 8x8 LED matrix controlled by Arduino. It uses a 3-to-8 decoder to select rows and 8 pull-down pins to control columns of LED matrix. Only one of the rows can be controlled at a time, but the fast switching in row selection gives an illusion that all the LEDs could be controlled simultaneously. A number of possible ideas were suggested on uses for this. In addition, consideration was given to possibly integrating this concept with the third group's concept of LED cubes.

Another one of the three groups consisted of Leanne Block '17 (Mechanical Engineering), Adam Gosselin '16 (Computer Engineering), and Hayley McClintock '16 (Biomedical Engineering). They designed a series of trapezoidal blocks (50cm X 20 cm each) that fit together in various configurations. Some of the blocks are made of wood and have images that represent important events in Brown's 250 years, such as the founding of the Open Curriculum and the merger with Pembroke campus. The other blocks are made from a whiteboard material, so that students can add their own events that are either pertinent to the whole University or maybe just a group of friends. The idea is to make a growing and moving timeline.

An example of one of the block configurationsAn example of one of the block configurationsThe final design of this would include many more blocks of both types, the wood blocks would be colorful and more cohesive visually, and all of the boards would be fitted with velcro backings and attached to an indoor velcro wall so that students can move them around and create new shapes as well as writing and drawing on the boards, creating new connections between events by their placement, as well as new shapes on the wall.

A third group worked on a "pixelated" wall concept and consisted of Rebecca Barron '15.5 (engineering and architectural studies), Coleen Chan (RISD '17/ Apparel Design), Victoria Chavez '18 (Applied Math/Computer Science), Stewart Lynch '16 (Computer Engineering), Maggie Mathieu '17 (Mechanical Engineering), Eric Shine '15 (Mechanical Engineering and Visual Arts), Haily Tran '16 (Environmental Science and Engineering), Kassie Wang '17 (Mechanical Engineering), and Victoria Wu '15 (Materials Science and Visual Arts). Their idea was to create a wall consisting of grid-like shelf with approximately 6000 square cells, and each cell would contain a 1.5 inch translucent acrylic cube created by a student/individual at Brown. Each cube can be removed from the shelf and would contain either a token, written anecdote, and/or sound bite from one individual at Brown, some kind of personal artifact to remember them. Also embedded in every cube is an LED, which shines into the plastic cube and can illuminate it. The leads of the LED would connect to a metal contact on the back of the cube, and together all the cubes complete a circuit running along the shelf behind every row and column.

A 9 x 9 prototype of the LED cube concept.A 9 x 9 prototype of the LED cube concept.The group planned to collect data from the current student body using polls, with questions like, "What would you consider the next 'big thing' in technology?" or "What is your favorite song?" and display these graphs or quotes on the screen created by the LED's. In this way, the group hoped to capture both the general trends in Brown's culture in 2014-15 as well as personal stories from each of its individuals, and get people "in the future" to interact with the wall.

Two of the prototypes will be chosen for further development and later 'buried' to mark Brown's 250th Anniversary celebration.