I went for a walk through the University of Idaho’s Mechanical Engineering Design suite the other day. The tracks for hanging posters I hung in the halls 12 years ago are still in use. The rubber-band planetary gear demonstrator I made with a friend is still displayed in the meeting area. This is a community that I contributed to.
In many ways, our designed contributions are how we identify with and relate to a community through time.
To the group of UI ME graduate students that watched me in the hall, I was just a stranger passing by. When I pointed and said I made that, I became a legend, storyteller, a source of inspiration and shared connection.
I walked across the street to see the trophy case with 3 consecutive Hall of the Year Awards… and none since. A picture of me on the wall winning the Outstanding Student Award and being Master of Ceremony for the College Convocation,,, these are not used. Simply a reminder of better days past. Awards are important, but they fail to display the creativity, the thought, the continuous use of a community contribution.
Ask yourself how you will be remembered within your community. Are you contributing to facade? Or are you contributing lasting value.
Dean Kaman once said, “In a free society, you get what you celebrate.” What do we want? Awards to remind us of better times? Sure. They matter. But are ultimately made up and can contribute into false facade. Designs of original contributions that enrich our culture and work? That’s what contributes the most to the community we yearn for.
In the HYPER lab we’re re-invigorating our Mad-Mondays by ending the day with a celebration of the weeks contributions to the lab community. The rules are simple:
1) your contribution must be recorded on the lab website,
2) you must present your contribution to the team.
3) we as a lab get to vote on whether to accept the contribution.
The composer in residence changes away!