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Lab #1: Week of September 8: Electing officers and product ideation


lab objectives, expectations for all labs, preparation, what's due, lab activities, other notes
section officer information form

Lab objectives
The main goals of the lab are to develop your team's organizational structure, elect team officers, and continue the process of product idea exploration, working towards the 3-ideas milestone in two weeks.

Do not change your lab section without making arrangements with the course instructor. Ad-hoc changes will create problems for keeping team sizes the same and maintaining mail lists. Also, since the project starts quickly, you do not have much time to adjust section assignments. Only hard constraints are an acceptable reason for a change.

Expectations for all labs

Lab sections are to begin promptly, 5 minutes after their nominal starting time. Punctuality is an important aspect of teamwork so showing up on time is essential. This applies to both students and instructors. If you are late and people are waiting, you are wasting their time.

Students and instructors must attend all of their lab sessions. If you will be missing a lab session, please make advanced arrangements so that your teammates can make adjustments. Please let your instructor know that you will be away.

In a typical lab, roughly 1/2 of the time will be spent giving progress updates and planning next steps, and at least 1/2 of the lab time will be spent working on project tasks.

Preparation before lab #1
Please review the course website well enough to recall the project workflow and milestones.

Review the topics under the team manual menu carefully, especially the team officer roles— electing officers is an important part of the first lab. Think about roles that you would like to assume.

You may want somebody on your team to prepare a team-member information spreadsheet, or be prepared to build the table directly in your team's project management site (see instructions below in the as a complete team section). A template for this table has been provided on the project management site. Password information needed to log into your team project management site will be provided by email on Monday evening before the first lab.

Read the primer on how to run meetings. Know your team mailing lists, and review the tips for digital communication.

Be sure to have prepared your brainstorming deliverable.

Review the tutorial on group idea generation so that you are familiar with the process. If there is time, you will do additional idea generation during lab.

Be prepared to give a short summary presentation about the project opportunities that you saw at the project ideas fair (~5 minutes per project).

Remember that you need to keep track of your time using the project timesheet. The timesheet will be introduced in class at the end of this week.

What's due
Bring your completed brainstorming deliverable (prepared for submission) and your design notebook to the lab read for the start of lab

Officer election results must be submitted using the officer information form by your section's acting system integrator, right after the lab meeting (please include officer email addresses).

Recommended lab #1 activities
It is recommended that you begin the lab with the two sections together for team-wide introductions and brief summaries of what you saw at the project ideas fair. You may also want to review the officer roles as a full team. Then, divide into individual sections for the officer nomination process and review of ideas from you individual brainstorming.

As a complete team (both sections together)
Distribute the student and staff name cards. Ideally the instructors will distribute these around the table before everyone arrives for lab. The name cards will be on a shelf in the conference room. At the end of each lab meeting, the name cards should be collected and put back on the shelf.

Introductions around the table should be made.

While the introductions are taking place, a student should fill in a spreadsheet or use the table in the team's project management site, recording the following information: team member name, their interests, whether they have transportation, how heavy their course load is during the term, IM name, and cell number as available. It will be useful to make two charts: one for the A section, and one for the B section. Be sure to project the chart so that all can see it as it is completed (there is a built-in projector in your meeting room).

The lab instructors should also briefly say what they do and describe their interests.

Students should present the short summaries they prepared for each of the projects they were assigned to at the ideas fair. It would be useful to project the idea fair project abstracts during this discussion.

Review the descriptions of officer positions for the team: system integrator, financial officer, safety officer, information officer, tool officer, and project management site master.

Close the meeting room divider and continue the lab with the two sections working separately.

As individual sections
You may want to use the projector in the conference room to display the lab instructions to help structure your process. For the team that is not on the side of the room with the ceiling mounted projector, you may also pick up a table top projector (certs required).

Identify persons in your section that are interested in the system integrator position. Allow each person to briefly say why they want to be an integrator. Develop a schedule for the candidate system integrators to rotate through during the first few weeks of the course. Each candidate should have at least one week to tryout at the position. When the tryout rotation is complete, the team can vote on a permanent system integrator. Ideally this would be no later in the term than a week before the sketch model review.

Now, the first system integrator in the rotation should take on the responsibility for running the rest of the lab meeting, as well as ensuring that minutes for today’s lab meeting are taken and distributed via the team's project management site. The minutes for today’s lab should include the table constructed during team introductions and all decisions from the remainder of the lab. This will include choices for team officers, results from an idea clustering exercise, and task forces assigned to meet deliverables for next week's lab. Files should be uploaded to the team project management site. (Your team also has an Athena locker named 2.009_yourTeamColor that can be used to share files. Instructions for connecting to Athena are available).

Elect one person in your section for each of the team officer positions: financial officer, safety officer, information officer, and tool officer. Please use a democratic election process that has been agreed upon by the section. Each officer needs to understand their responsibilities in detail. It may be helpful to project the role description for each officer under consideration.

You will also need to chose a project management site master. This person will be responsible for overseeing the team project management site.

Once you have selected officers, please submit this information using the online form.

Note: financial officers will need to attend a credit card orientation session and a rfp training session. Information officers will need to attend a session with the librarians. System integrators will attend a communications workshop.

Spend about 1/2 hour of the lab looking at the ideas you prepared for the individual brainstorming deliverable. Each student should pin up and briefly describe their ideas (push pins will be in the lab). Then, go through the exercise of working en-mass to classify the ideas into a small sets of similar ideas and giving descriptive names to the clusters.

Tip: At this stage the goal is not to eliminate/select specific ideas...we do not know enough about the ideas. The goal is to identify sets of general product categories/opportunities for further investigation. Ideas should be clustered based upon the need/issue, not the embodiment envisioned in the sketches.

clustered ideas
labeled clusters of sorted ideas (theme: toys)


Once you have the clusters named, you will want to decide which idea areas are of the most interest for additional exploration. You might give each team member three stickies and allow them to vote for the their top three. This should provide guidance on the areas that are most interesting to the team.

If there is enough time, conduct a group brainstorming session to generate additional ideas within your three chosen areas.

Talk about what needs to happen during lab next week. The main goal will be to gather information in preparation for the 3-ideas presentation. Before next week the team will need to do background work for its three chosen idea areas (possible customers and their key needs, relevant existing products, market potential, more product ideas, and some technical feasibility analysis). Of course, if something new and interesting comes up in the process of your research, that new direction can be explored as well. Keep in mind that at least one product idea loosely related to, or inspired by, the idea fair should be presented at the 3-ideas presentation.

Remember: The research and idea generation during this phase of the project is very important because it will determine your team's direction for the entire term.

Divide the team into task forces as needed, following the guidelines for creating task forces. Clarify what the different groups are to deliver and how the system integrator will facilitate coordination between the different task forces.

Submit a copy of your brainstorming assignment to your instructor before leaving lab. Your team may also want to photocopy a complete set of all brainstorming sketches for each section member. There is a copy machine in the 2.009 Pappalardo lab computer area.

Other notes about the lab:
A TA will show up during your lab section to take your picture. These pictures will be put on your team web-page.