Day 3

It was the most intense day of the Athens programme so far. We faced a lot of challenges, shared a few laughs, and worked as hard as we could to grow our project.

Due to a final round job interview, I was unlucky enough to miss out on the previous Athens day of this fascinating Biomimicry course. Thankfully, my helpful teammates and Dr. Appelman took their time to fill me in one the situation at hand. I learned that the day before, the team had chosen to work on the Food/Waste topic. We would try and make a sensible design and put together some great ideas.
This turned out to be a daunting challenge for sure, as we had to start with a presentation about our initial ideas at 10 AM. After some technological hurdle with the beamer’s input cable, and having decided to give our presentation the old-fashioned way on the whiteboard, we started at around 11 AM. Dr. Caroline Evejan joined the group and she was kind enough to give us a thorough and very much appreciated feedback on our ideas. Her message came across very clearly: as of now we were focusing too much on the technological side of things. Engineers, she went on, often provide great and superior solutions from a technical point of view, but they will only be successful if they are also “liked” by the people. And “liking” is much more than just appreciating the technology underlying, it also means that there must be an emotional bond between the people and the solutions that they are given. She advised us to continuously benchmark what we are designing against her framework around Presense, as given by her on the first Athens day. And I feel proud, looking back on this day, that our solution really has grown in this perspective. Two more presentations would follow that day, and, looking back on them, I can say that I am very satisfied with what has been achieved so far. It was no easy task, however, but I feel very thankful to be a part of such a motivated and multidisciplinary team. On the one hand, we have Anuraag and Romain, both chemists and excellent solution bearers. Then comes Marta, who, as an agricultural engineer, has the ideal background for our project. She works hard and is always ready to take the initiative. Federica, architect, comes up with clever drawings and stunning design ideas. For example, she conceptualized the ‘recycling’ aspect in our building design, by creating a building that is composed of several smaller cells, some of which can be moved freely to shrink one room, or enlarge another. That way, ‘rooms’ are never a static given, and one could say that the building can in fact recycle ‘space’, apart from waste. We have presented our design and benchmarked it with the other teams in a Give and Take session, where every team had to list up what their design had to offer and what it required from the rest. These often confronting demands led to intense discussions between different teams, with some hard criticizing going hence and forth. But I was pleased to find how good we were at a team in defending our project. I attribute this to the fact that each and every one of us truly beliefs in our project.

It certainly was a day well spent, but interesting challenges still await and the deal is not yet closed!

De Turck