Wednesday, July 9, 2008

D Day (-5) - Things are starting to get hectic

Today was the first day since I began writing this blog that I have really felt under pressure and I do not think that I am the only one. With the vast bulk of the participants arriving early this weekend we can no longer think of IDDS as a concept - it is becoming a reality! Tasks such as ordering food, creating the participant packet and organizing housing arrangements may seem trivial when compared with the exciting team projects but they are still essential to the success of IDDS 08. We were left to work on tasks such as these in the early part of the day before converging on room 16 -168 for what I think was our longest meeting yet. The speed with which people ran off to do their various jobs once them meeting had reached it's conclusion was a testament to just how much still needs to be done. Fear not though - we'll have everything ready on time!

Meanwhile Crossman and John have been working around the clock to make sure that D-Lab, and their new workshop, is ready for the beginning of the conference. D- Lab is sure to become the real hub of the next four weeks as teams use it and the surrounding workshops as a place to find tools, ideas and even Amy if they are lucky! We have been kindly given the opportunity to use further basement space for the project teams and this will surely be of huge benefit to the participants once their projects begin to grow and expand.

D-lab - before

And a selection of the tools particpants at this year's conference will be using

Following on from yesterday our three Honduran participants arrived safely and soundly this evening. I have yet to meet with them but they were taken out to dinner and orientated by Nadia Elkordy, a recent MIT Graduate who is helping out with this year's conference. She is, in her own words, "immensely awed" by the co-coordinators of IDDS and I can assure you that she is not alone in saying this. It is such a pleasure to interact with such determined and inspiring people as Amy Smith, Benjamin Linder and Co.

One thing we have discussed extensively in our meetings has been the potential problems that those without fluent English could face. Thankfully we have two or three organizers, including Nadia and Ruben, a one year MIT research fellow hailing from Guatemala, who speak Spanish well so we hope that this will help these participants to realise their full potential at IDDS 2008. Once within the workshops though, we hope that the language of engineering and technology will transcend any traditional language barriers.

Tomorrow looks set to be an extremely interesting day. Many of the organizers will be giving trial presentations of the IDDS related work they have been doing since the end of last year's conference to the group which will then serve as templates for when they give the same presentations to participants later in the conference. In the afternoon the organizers will be learning how to design the "build it" projects which they will then teach participants in a crazy, intense one-day training session on the second day of the conference. . Will make sure to bring my camera along tomorrow to capture some design technology in action!


M said...

Niall, this is great! Thanks for blogging. Will you post the project list this weekend, or will you just keep us in suspense?

Madeleine Abromowitz, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania

Niall Walsh said...

Hi madeline - thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately we are going to have to keep you in suspense but we will be letting you know first thing on Monday morning snd providing you with detailed write ups of each...Can't wait to finslly meet you all this weekend!