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Hartford's First Place Team Heading To Nationals!

Alex, Constance, Phoebe and Victoria didn't apply together as a team, but left the event winning first place - as a team!

Alex, Phoebe, Victoria and Constance

Mother and daughter, Victoria and Constance, applied separately from friends Alex and Phoebe. The Make48 team put the duo’s together and magic took over. Team Magic Make created the winning idea at MakerspaceCT this past October, the final city series event of the year with Stanley Black & Decker calling the challenge of “Outdoor Lifestyle.” Eclipse 360 won the team first place, a portable decorative light that allows anyone to direct the light where needed.

Meet Magic Make and read how their first Make48 experience unfolded and what they’re looking forward to at Nationals!

How did you hear about the Make48 competition and why did you decide to pursue it?

Alex: Phoebe is a part of MakerspaceCT and was trying to put a team together for the event. She asked me if I would be interested in participating because we have worked together before and I have a fair amount of design and engineering experience. I thought it would be a good test for myself to see how much I could accomplish in such a short time frame and agreed to be on the team with her.

Phoebe: I was an Innovation Cohort with MakerspaceCT and found out through the Makerspace that there was going to be a design competition. I didn’t really think much about it until a former member and a friend of mine reached out and asked if I was going to do it. Due to Covid, I imagine I’m not the only one that went through several sleepless nights of existential crisis. Their question triggered another night of this. I had done design challenges before of different types when I led the NYC’s Engineers Without Borders’ Appropriate Technology Design Team and I remembered it was some of the most exhilarating and fulfilling times in my life. So, I decided I was going to take a stab at it and try to find a team because honestly, I needed to shake up my life a bit. (side note: my good friend who sparked this venture had moved across the country at the time so I thought they were ineligible to join). Thus, I drafted and put up an ad at the Makerspace and wrangled my coworker and good friend Alex to enlist.

Victoria: I heard about the competition through MakerspaceCT. I didn’t think twice about doing it. It was a opportunity to push outside my comfort zone and meet more makers.

Constance: My daughter, Victoria, started a makerspace at American University as well as one in Stonington, Connecticut. Before that I did not even know what a makerspace was. I happened to be visiting during the initial tryouts for Hartford, and she asked me if I wanted to tag along...... I did so, not sure what I could bring to the competition, but she assured me that I was a maker!

Your team worked together very well, even though half your team were strangers before the event. Can you tell me how you guys worked together so well to come up with the winning idea for the SBD Challenge?

Constance: I think part of why we worked well together was because of our differences. And of course my daughter and I knew each other, and Phoebe and Alex knew each other....and together we just learned more about each other and our differences became our strengths. Phoebe and Alex brought more analytical, engineer-type skills and Victoria had experience with 3D printing, building and teaching. I have training in communication science and I am a special needs teacher, so I tried to see things from the angle of someone with a disability, or for example with our product, someone who had light sensitivity.

Phoebe: It was all a big experiment for us and being open to changes is part of it. To be honest, we’re all very different, in approach, style, and experience. We started with meetups virtually once a week or when we could and tried to see how our problem solving styles were. The strategy in the end was a bit of divide and conquer depending on our different experiences. I think the key was flexibility and adaptation.

Victoria: The pressure of you have to do it in 48 hours. We couldn’t go back and forth on the idea. We just had to go for it and trust in each other. It felt very magical working together.

Alex: I think the important thing is we all played to our strengths to brainstorm and develop an idea that we thought would be acceptable to both prototype and pitch to the sponsor company. Everybody had great ideas going into this and we were lucky to see all of those ideas come together and work out in the end.

What were your team strengths and how did you know which team member was doing what?

Victoria: We met on Zoom prior to the event where we identified each others strengths. Throughout the competition we checked in with each other, and some of our strengths shifted a bit. Being flexible of the roles really helped us.

Alex: The main thing we had going for us was a diverse set of skills and experiences that we were able to bring together as a team. It worked out that we were all able to focus on different tasks and bring it together in the end. We all trusted each other to complete our parts and it worked out well for us.

Phoebe: Besides our combined experience in mechanical engineering, design, and tinkering, I think openness, kindness, and willingness to ask for help really pulled us through.

Constance: Victoria was comfortable asking the Tool Techs for help...and the three of them needed less sleep than I did!! I think our strengths were that we could each do something a little different, but then come together and talk about where we were in the competition.

What was your favorite part of the competition?

Phoebe: Is it wrong if I said food? Cause I’m food motivated and my brain needs nutrients. But half-jokes aside I was very inspired by working with the industrial designers. The entire experience was very eye opening to what it takes to design and possibly take a product to market. It made it feel a lot more attainable than before. I am looking into shifting careers to something more design heavy and talking to the industrial designers was a refreshing added motivation.

Victoria: Everything! The opportunity to work with new people and push myself in this challenge. Hanging out with different makers and I got to spend time with mom.

Alex: I enjoyed the challenge of the competition The time constraint adds a little pressure and some excitement.

Constance: As a Mom, I just loved every minute I got to hang out with my daughter. I was so proud to see her work and I was proud and happy to be a part of it. I remember at one point in the October competition, looking around and pinching myself, so happy to be with my daughter, doing something that I knew we would talk about for decades to come. The days in Hartford were so invigorating and so much fun. The competition never felt to me like who was going to win or not win, winning was being there and spending time watching my daughter do what she loves the most.

We can’t wait to see your team this month at the Nationals. What are you most looking forward to?

Alex: I am most looking forward to finding out what the prompt for Nationals is and what we as a team can come up with.

Phoebe: I’m really curious what the next challenge is and to see what we create out of that inspiration as well as everyone else’s design and builds.

Constance: I feel like the people I met in Hartford, including Tom, Amy, Phoebe and Alex have not disappeared from my life, but I get to have another chapter with them. I have never been to Kansas before and that will also be very exciting. And once again, the Mom thing....watching Victoria create and the gift of being with her.

Victoria: I can’t wait to see the GoCreate space and meet the other teams. It’s been great being able to work with other makers, learn from them and create a lifelong bond

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