MEMSI – The Setup
By Eric Wong ’19
MEMSI [MIT Entrepreneurship and Maker Skills Integrator] is a two-week hardware startup bootcamp based in Hong Kong! This year’s cohort includes thirty-four students across a wide breadth of both undergraduate and graduate programs. There are seventeen MIT students and seventeen Hong Kong students who will be exposed to the entrepreneurial scene here in Asia.
They will get a glimpse into the manufacturing process in several facilities in China, and participate in various workshops capturing different aspects of the product design process. At the end of the two weeks, six products with prototypes and business models will be presented to a panel of judges and an audience of entrepreneurs and investors from the Hong Kong area.
Over the course of these two weeks, there will be a series of workshops designed to teach us the Disciplined Entrepreneurship Framework developed by the Martin Trust Center Director, Bill Aulet. These workshops are complemented with short lessons on various technical skills that are key prototyping mediums including foamcore, breadboarding, arduino programming, and soldering.
Design Thinking Workshop
Design thinking is a formulated process that focuses upon user centered research and informed design. In small groups, we practiced one of the key aspects of product design: IDEATION! We were given a prompt called ‘the future of communication’ for which we had five minutes to write down all of our hopes and fears about this topic.
Presenting “touch,” a universal and reliable communication platform
From here, we learned how to properly understand users and how to hold productive interviews in order to learn more about the people and the problems that they face. Then, you are able to form a problem statement and once again, IDEATE how to solve this problem. For my group, after interviewing one of the members, we presented “Touch,” a universal and reliable communication platform.
Break Something Challenge
Ironically, this challenged involved building instead of breaking. With a new group, the goal was to create a contraption that would launch a magnet at a target to score the highest amount of points after three shots. After 45 minutes of building and designing, our team created “Winner,” a guided ramp that allows you to precisely (but not necessarily accurately) launch magnets.
“Winner”put up a great fight but fell short, coming in second place.
To focus our imaginations, we were provided with eight different sectors to brainstorm problems that exist. For example, elder care, healthcare in hospitals, future of communications, future of mobility, food and agriculture technology, inclusive communities, smart cities and sustainability, consumer health and wellness. In two sessions, one for ideation and one for categorization, we explored the possibilities in one of these sectors in small groups.
Brainstorming existing problems
After these two rounds of ideation in teams, we each individually took time to digest all the potential problem spaces to work in and pitched a problem that we wanted to solve. This lead to the formation of teams based upon common interests, complementary skills and personalities.
I present to you the TEAM (name tbd), that consists of 6 students, Ilona Phipps-Morgan [MIT MBA 2019], Janice Wong [HKUST BS 2019], Maggie Wang [CUHK BS 2020], Mikhail Oustamananolakis [HKPU PhD 2020], Timothy Glynn [MIT MBA 2019] and your truly, Eric Wong [MIT BS 2019].
The six of us want to tackle the issue of food packaging waste particularly in supermarkets. Inspired by the excessive amounts of packaging we noticed at supermarkets and the rise of zero packaging stores, we feel that we can create tangible change in this area. We are so excited to learn more about this problem and get to work!