19 Nov Designing the Future with Some Help from the Library
If you want to be wowed and inspired by what young people are doing these days, spend some time with these three students in the Multi-Disciplinary Design Program (College of Architecture + Planning) here at the U. Matthew Hansen, Sumner Swaner, and Ethan Powell each spend considerable time in the library’s ProtoSpace doing 3D printing and using the virtual reality equipment for class projects.
Their current work revolves around a class trip to Yellowstone National Park where they immersed themselves in the natural habitat and then developed individual projects pertaining to real and theoretical challenges.
Sumner’s project is centered on the research that is being done on the bison population in Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife biologists have been studying the bison for many years to monitor diseases, track their population size, and assess health. However, It was not until 2018 that they began to study them in more detail. Yellowstone Forever instituted a citizen science project that collaborates closely with the Yellowstone Bison Management Team to document ungulate herd demographics and collect scat samples. To improve the study materials used by the biologists, Sumner designed a research kit that would store these items in a convenient and light-weight case: a new-and-improved compact antenna, a cooler for scat samples, a scat scoop, and a mobile phone.
“ProtoSpace makes it so easy for me to rapidly prototype products, and the staff is amazing when it comes to working through a complicated 3D print.”
Matthew is working on speculative design. His project imagines Yellowstone and the western states surrounding after the eruption of the super volcano. The land is covered in ash and isn’t inhabitable by humans or wildlife. He has developed the idea of transferring consciousness to the humans who have survived. This would allow those humans to be assisted by robots that would inform the humans how to live in the new wasteland.
Every year Yellowstone sees an increase in visitors, which means more congestion and noise in the park. So Ethan has recorded the “sound pollution” with the objective of reducing it. Through his discursive process, he has designed a mask that visitors would wear. The masks would allow individuals to communicate with one another but without emitting any noise outside the masks. The benefits would include a quieter park for both humans and wildlife, as well as an enhanced experience for the visitors, who would be directed to more fully embrace their experience and recognize their impacts on the natural environment.