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The Process of Innovation

Just months away from the deadline of the final project, the Senior Project Design Team at the University of Tulsa is preparing for every possibility.

Innovation starts with big ideas, but is truly found in the daily process of testing and retesting. The University of Tulsa Senior Design project is in the midst of this process, a process that requires continual brainstorming, analysis, and always innovative ideas.

As part of the senior project requirements, the project team presented a design review and update to their peers, professors, and a few professionals from various other senior projects. At this point in the project, they are ready to, if not already, begin building the final product.

“Design reviews provide scheduling structure to our project as they are the deadlines for certain steps such as having a detailed design or prototype completed,” said Ella Luttbeg, team lead for the project working with Symbiotic.

These types of presentations provide internal deadlines for the team and give the opportunity for external feedback as well.

“They help give our team concrete dates and an opportunity to ensure all parts of the project are on track. Through presenting a design review to our peers we also get helpful feedback and advice for the project,” Luttbeg said.

On February 3, 2020, the team presented their Design Review II: Preliminary Design Review. Throughout this hour presentation, the professors were able to participate interactively, and at the end audience members could offer advice, ask questions, or praise moments of good design or research.

The presentation included background on Symbiotic, and gave details on the purpose of the project for the greater community. This proposed solar-powered water heater + compost system will be implemented in Tulsa’s Outdoor Classroom area, a space focused on outdoor experiential-learning for all ages, but oftentimes it is geared for kids. The design team took this space into account, making sure all design logics could be easily used by children, such as the height of the barrel or weight to turn a device.

Creating a new feature takes time and patience. The team has to prepare for many options, especially before the build begins, in the various pieces that could alter the implementation of the design.

“It’s been challenging to keep all of our specifications in mind while laying out the design, in making sure we fit it all together well,” said Luttbeg.

All members of the team work together in the planning and design, but also in the physical build and implementation. We were able to capture both the joy and hard work that goes into this piece of the project.

Symbiotic is about contributing to the well-being of the planet and all that live here, and education and innovation is such a key piece of that puzzle. The purpose of this project is not only to serve the planetary needs but also stimulate young minds and instill this love for the planet in them as well. And one day they might be ones grinding through this process and innovating for the future.

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