Thesis | Wrapping Up & Some Updates

It has been quite a whirlwind adventure, but both Thesis and my time as a student at MFA Design + Technology is finally over!

I’m so proud that my final project, Unum, ended up as the culmination of my academic journey, representing and exploration and articulation of so many of the tough questions I have asked about technology, culture, and society over the last two years. In many ways, Unum wasn’t an ending at all, rather, it watered the seeds that DT planted, and now I stand ready to steward and reap the fruits of the many intellectual and design challenges that have grown but lain untended since I’ve been so busy all year! True, Unum as a thesis may be over, but Unum as a project, a provocation, a business, a system-level intervention, and a collaboration with one of my best friends and smartest people I know (Audrey Fox) is just getting revved up in earnest.

Some Amazing End of Semester News!

First, some amazing updates on Unum and me in general that I have been too busy to share.

  • Unum was selected for a 2017 William Randolph Hearst scholarship. We now have $4,000 to pay off project expenses and use for further research and testing.
  • I was selected as a 2017 Consensus Blockchain Fellow and will be attending their conference in NYC next week.
  • I was selected as a Co-valedictorian of the 2017 MFA Design + Technology program. I got a very cool knife as a reward – cause I’m sharp, lol.
  • I was accepted as an IDEO CoLab 2017 Summer fellow and will be heading to San Francisco for 2 months of studying, prototyping, designing, and building innovative new projects that explore emerging technologies like Blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and the internet of things with a group of super talented and really cool people from all over the country.
  • I accepted a position as part-time faculty at Parsons MFADT for Creativity and Computation Lab. I’ll be teaching one night a week next Fall. Can’t wait to finally explore teaching in more depth, and a good kick in the button to brush up on my Unity, Arduino, Javascript, and Open Frameworks this summer!

Unum Final Deliverables & the Thesis Show

Unum was showcased in three of the four MFADT Spectrum thesis shows, each having very different audiences and settings. Several final deliverables were created to talk about Unum in different lights. I also finished my final Thesis paper which was submitted to the Parson’s Thesis archive.

You can find more information about the 2017 MFA D+T Thesis show on the Spectrum website.

Master’s Thesis Final Paper

We are required to submit a final paper that reviews our concept, research and design questions, prototyping, insights learned, and reflections on our final form. You can check it out here or in the Parsons Thesis Archive.

Spectrum MFADT Symposium – May 11th, 2017

The symposium featured a range of stimulating presentations and panel discussions of critical art and design projects and topics. I spoke about Unum on the Cultural Transformations panel, moderated by Bernardo Schorr, Senior Interaction Designer at Smart Design. For the Symposium, my presentation outlined why and how the blockchain protocol can truly make distributed manufacturing a viable and competitive alternative to how things are produced today. I also discussed some of the issues that our platform capitalism ‘sharing economy’ has raised for today, and how the blockchain might potentially circumvent these issues.

I also prepared a white paper about the blockchain, distributed manufacturing, and Unum which was debuted at this event. You can download the white paper by clicking on the image below.


Watch a recording of the presentation and panel discussion here! (warning, the audio isn’t the best, so it is recommended you wear headphones. Our sound team is working on it and I should hopefully have a better version soon.

Spectrum MFADT Interactive Showcase | Products & Web, May 12th, 2017

The Interactive showcase took place on the nights of May 11th and May 12th, the first night focusing on video games and the second night on products and web solutions. I showed off Unum’s most recent prototype, the Kuka chairs made from as well as a technology demo of the Unum Seal and how it can use RFID/NFC to tie a physical product to its digital manufacturing thread and product lifecycle. The night was a great success and I was able to talk about Unum with several different faculties, students from other departments, alumni, and industry professionals who were visiting.

Check out some photos from the showcase below!

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Spectrum MFADT Exhibition, May 16th – 19th 2017

The exhibition curated a selection of creative technology projects that were installed for a gallery environment and could be browsed by visitors during the final week of school and the Parsons Festival 2017. In this setting, I curated a selection of Unum’s prototypes and products as a “Living Room of the Future” which looked a living room today, but with all products that were made through distributed manufacturing and making. Unum was shown from Tuesday through Friday, with fliers, business cards, copies of the white paper, and stickers available for attendees to pick up as they browsed the gallery.

We are still working on the website, but more information about the project will be added to as it becomes available.

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Please note, all Interactive Showcase photos credited to David Utt, Catherine Schmitz, and Eliza Bruce.

Moving Forward

So now that things are over, it’s time to get to work at IDEO, hit up all the sci-fi I’ve been missing (I’m looking at you 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson), and start thinking about how to move forward on some ideas/wishes/dreams I have had, many discussed as musings and random asides in this blog! I can’t wait to get to the next thing and to enjoy the nice (and slightly unseasonably warm) Spring weather for a bit. I’ve earned it.

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