1. Central Palm Project

    January 28, 2022 by Saffron B.

    I gained a newfound appreciation for all of the work that goes into architecture. This module made me excited for the future since I got to learn about many new and upcoming sustainable technologies.

    -Class of 2023 Student Saffron B.

    My project, “Central Palm,” is located on the golden shores of Kite Beach. The central courtyard is the house’s spine, allowing year-round use due to the shade of the ghaf tree while still maintaining privacy from the outside world. The state-of-the-art Tesla solar roof reduces the owners’ reliance on the grid, even allowing you to sell excess solar energy back to the grid. Water-collecting tech that utilizes local sea breezes alongside sound-absorbing glass, inspired by the Czech Republic Expo pavilion, combines sustainability and modernity, thereby maintaining harmony with the local environment. The house features traditional Islamic design, such as columns, a majlis space for entertaining guests, and a prayer room. This house isn’t the future; this house is now.

  2. Efficient Human Settlement

    January 27, 2022 by Mila F. Mmelta M. and Guillermo H.

    One of my favorite sessions was right after our wexplore, visiting Tierra del Sol. It was unbelievable. The place was fantastic and so heart-warming. Everything was so thought out and showed an impressively accurate representation of what a community space should look like. I spent such a great time there and hope to go again. I learned more than I could’ve imagined.

    -Class of 2023 Student Mila F.

    Driving Question: How might we use our understanding of architecture through time to design a context-informed structure?

    Our group designed what we believe is a modern take on a traditional Oaxacan house and gastronomical hub which showcases the Oaxaca’s rich food and drink diversity.

    What new things did you learn about yourself?

    We learned about the impact of colonialism on Mexican architecture through our experience through seeing the use of traditional European elements that incorporate Mexican structures.

    What are your big takeaway lessons from this project?

    Our biggest takeaway was the process of the environmental impact analysis as I feel like the process of environmental impact analysis will be very important in any project I want to do that involves construction thinking about input and output I am putting in the environment.

  3. Fresh Air Project

    by Sara G.

    This module was unique to me, as I had never known how interested I was in architecture until I experienced it during these two months. I have also learned the importance of focusing on the journey and the learning instead of making my product look perfect.

    -Class of 2023 Student Sara G.

    Driving Question: How can I design and build a model home or community that will function efficiently in a desert environment?

    Are you looking for a house that is both nature-friendly and luxurious? Then my project, “Fresh Air,” is perfect for you! Located in The Palm Islands, it combines different panoramic views, from the relaxing beach view to the moat with the fish, and finally, the lush green spaces all around the house.

    This house combines many aspects of sustainability: It saves water by taking it from the beach and using it in the pool and the moat. The greywater is used for watering the garden and for the flowers all around the house. The materials used (concrete, bamboo, etc.) are very eco-friendly. Solar panels help produce electricity using solar energy. The fish in the moat produce waste that contributes to the growing of plants.

  4. Biocities: Building a Better Farming System

    June 15, 2021 by Seb O.

    Driving Question: How can I apply my understanding of closed system ecosystems to design a better farming system in my city?

    Module Overview: In the Biocities module, Seb looked at how naturally functional systems work and how we can apply that understanding to increase the efficiency of food production in a more sustainable and resilient fashion.

    Project Reflection: “The Biocities module was really interesting. I loved the independence given by the educators and the ability to take the product where I wanted to take it. I learned so much about agriculture, useful 3D design skills, and animation techniques and was able to conduct a closed-system experiment via a BioBottle.”

  5. Engineering Bridges Module

    March 11, 2021 by Marily M. and Diego M.

    Driving Question: How can I engineer the strongest bridge with the most efficient use of the specified material?

    Module Overview: Bridges are perhaps the most challenging and fascinating feats of engineering. 

    In this module, students became civil and structural engineers by working at the Manchego Fromage Consultancy, where they were responsible for coming up with the most efficient bridge design. 

    Students strived to creatively meet their imaginary client’s needs within budget and material constraints. The clients were the City of Rodentia, working in partnership with the Rodent Migration Travel Group. 

    In learning about bridge types, students explored the effect of tension and compressive forces, differentiated between brittle and ductile material properties, and investigated the calculations that go into designing bridges. 

    Marily M.

    I enjoyed the module so much. I love creating and building things, so I had lots of fun building some testing bridges and the final one. I faced some challenges I didn’t think would happen, but I found a way to deal with them.

    For this module, we designed and built a spaghetti bridge basing ourselves on our client’s needs from the “City of Rodentia”. I learned about bridge types, the effect of tension and compression, and the calculations that need to be considered to design a bridge. This knowledge helped me design a strong and effective bridge.

    My final product is an Open Tender, which is the proposal for our “clients.” It includes the price, design, 2D and 3D model, calculations, and other information pieces.

    Diego M.

    I learned how much I like to design things and make them physically. It was enjoyable and challenging to build a bridge with pasta because you need to consider many factors and develop techniques to build the strongest bridge.

    This project allowed me to learn about the different types of bridges and the engineering process and what it includes (different studies from the area, forces of members, strength to weight ratio, etc.)

    Based on our investigations, we had to experiment with building pasta trusses to see what works, what doesn’t work, and which type of bridge truss was stronger than the others.

    We created and proposed an open tender to the fictitious Rodent Migration Travel Group after running our experiments.


    September 3, 2020 by Mat I.

    Driving Question: How might I grow my creativity during the COVID-19 crisis through exploring the science of creativity and innovation and experimenting with art?

    What were your goals for this module? How did you achieve them?

    The main goal for me was: By the end of this module, I will be paying a lot more attention to the creative process itself, instead of the final product. I have experimented with the creative process. I have successfully implemented the incubation period in my creative process. When I first thought of the script, I had several scenes I wanted to do. I distanced myself from my ideas, which increased my productivity. After a walk, I listed all of the thoughts I had and I was impressed by how my list increased beforehand and after the incubation. With the evaluation stage, I am feeling much more eager to share and discuss my ideas with peers, family, and others, and I accept critique as constructive feedback. I think this term was a breakthrough for me in terms of understanding creativity. I am now paying a lot more attention to the process itself rather than focusing on the final product. After experimenting with all stages of the creative process, I enjoyed doing it, and I feel I am much more productive.

    What did you learn about yourself or about your creative process or about your medium?

    I feel that I have really grown in creativity and especially in the creative process. Before the module, I didn’t know that the usual things that I do when creating something have a scientific base behind them. This module helped to focus more on the process of creativity rather than on the final product. As for animation, I took a course on animation (Minecraft Animation), which helped to develop the main techniques such as lighting (Omni lights), animating (3D animating using Blender), interacting with the world (adding items, texture mapping), and rendering. I have successfully experimented with lighting, which looks great (according to feedback) and created a walk cycle, which is essential, and it can be used in future animations. I set up the characters, added skin, changed eye color, and so on.

  7. Nebula VR: Designing an Omni-Directional Treadmill

    May 21, 2020 by Njeri N.
    A model of Njeri’s omni-directional treadmill

    Driving Question: How can I use my passion for applied physics to create an omni-directional treadmill?

    Project Description: Nebula Model O is an omni-directional treadmill specified for virtual-reality gaming.

    My goal was to design a functional, beautiful, and structurally sound omni-directional treadmill. Moreover, I wanted to use sustainable, very accessible materials like carbon-glass and other used in 3D printing.

    Njeri’s Process Portfolio

    The Fool’s Journey: A Look at my Creative Process

    I will say, the look of the audience when I lead my presentation with “Hi I’m Njeri, and I am presenting an omni-directional treadmill I devised,” was very close to the best part of it all. It was a look that I am well accustomed to receiving; the look in between intrigue, and “what the heck is she on about?” The key, however, I have learned, is maintaining that perfect balance between eccentricity and conventionality to hold the intrigue of the audience. You see, the eccentricity is what feeds intrigue, but should it not be fed with the spoon of conventionality; you risk losing intrigue in favor of being tossed in the looney bin. It appears, however, that this process of maintaining a balance between sanity and insanity only applies to my presentation technique and not my decision-making process.

    Till this day, it both haunts and fascinates me that, inspired by the Australia VR module, I decided to develop an omni-directional treadmill holding only a laughable amount of the prerequisites necessary for such a task.

    Expert level understanding of engineering concepts, an understanding of how to use complex virtual engineering software, an advanced understanding of statistical mechanics, material physics? Allow me to laugh in announcing I had none of these.

    Zero, zip, zilch.

    Quite literally, all I had was an idea of how I wanted it to look, work, and feel, paired with an understanding of classical mechanics in my intellectual toolkit. For lack of a better way to phrase this, in terms of knowledge and skills, this project required a crane, a forklift, and an array of construction equipment, while I only had a small tool kit with a single screwdriver. So my decision, in choosing to build an Omni-directional treadmill may look like one of great hubris, it was one of a much more formidable nature; foolish.

    As I embarked on my project, I had to painstakingly learn a six-month formal course on how to use the engineering software Fusion 360 in less than a month. This program served to communicate my idea into a physical form but did nothing to prove it’s functionality. And I was much more interested in functionality than I was in physical design.

    In fact, the guiding question throughout the entire project was “Can spherical motion provide an Omni-directional experience, and to what extent is it feasible for the human gait?” The former part, I could only answer through countless simulations I ran. The overwhelming answer was a screeching yes. The answer to the latter, however, can only be theorized for now until a physical human-sized-model is printed and assembled. For now, the assumption is yes.

    But you see, in presenting the burning questions that fuelled me through this project, I gloss over the most important part of it all: I had to stumble through it all like a fool. Because I did not exactly have someone to guide me through the janky technical aspects of it, I had to discover things for myself. Moreover, because I was essentially a blank slate in terms of scientific knowledge (in comparison to what I needed to know), I had to treat everything experimentally.

    One example of this is when one component would exert far too much pressure on another, a singularity would occur every time I ran a simulation. So I observed it, recorded graphs based on this behavior, then googled it and found out that this phenomenon was statistical strain. It had been discovered more than 100 years ago and sat on the coattails of the theory of thermodynamics. I realized I was in a very unique position where these concepts were not just formulas on a university textbook, but rather something I was actively observing and working with in the most practical sense.

    So while I was stumbling through this desert of knowledge as a directionless fool, my lack of direction allowed me to do what science is all about: ask and observe free of any biases. My acceptance of being a complete fool allowed me to skip the Dunning-Kruger curve all together in embracing that I know nothing, and thus birthing my greatest ambition — I want to know.

    The truth of the matter is that from a surface level I did it. Against my own expectation (and anyone with even a sliver of reason), I actually managed to do it. Should I have the funds tomorrow, I could print out the human-sized version of the device and begin working on the electrical aspect of it. I could easily have a finished product in less than a year. But that doesn’t matter to me. Nebula is just a device, its inventor, however, as I discovered, is the most foolish, audacious, stupidly curious person who will get it done. That is the greatest discovery I got from this project.

    And from this project, I have realized one thing for certain: as long as I live, I will create things, fail, and succeed, allowing the ocean of curiosity to guide my foolish mind.

    So I shall leave you with this rhetoric that I continually ask myself: Does it take one to know, to do? or does it take one to do, to know?

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