Felipe and Rafael are the winners from the first 2021 Make48 City Series! Their winning idea, Drain N’ Gain, won the Koch challenge of water conservation; Sustainability & Environment Stewardship- Doing More with Less. Rafael has a mechanical engineering degree and is pursuing his Masters at Wichita State University. Felipe is majoring in mechanical engineering also at WSU. Both men are passionate about applying the concepts they’ve learned in engineering and creating solutions for real-world problems. See how they came together at GoCreate to build a prototype in 48 hours.
How did you hear about the Make48 competition and why did you decide to pursue it?
We first heard about the competition through WSU's news email. We decided to join the competition because we love engineering to its core and for us, engineering and innovation go hand in hand. Make48 seemed to be a challenge where we would be exposed to an engineering problem and have a well-defined deadline to come up with an innovative solution for it. We love this type of challenge, how it pushes us to go beyond our comfort zone and look for solutions never heard of before. That said, it was natural for us to feel compelled to join Wichita's Make48 Challenge.
You had a 2-person team (compared to the 3 and 4 person teams). Did you feel at a disadvantage with fewer team members?
Definitely, when it comes to several simultaneous tasks we were at a disadvantage, compared to bigger teams. However, the 2-person team was a conscious decision, where, even though we were aware that it could hinder our performance we also believed that with a concise team our flow of communication, our assertiveness when comes to making a decision, and creative process could be potentially much faster than the other competitors. Felipe and I are both long standing friends, and with that, we believe that we know our individual strengths and weaknesses, and we tried to leverage our strengths together to overcome our weaknesses.
How did you both brainstorm and come up with the winning idea for the Koch Challenge (Water Conservation)
Honestly, the winning idea was something that simply came to us literally during the announcement of the challenge problem. I can't quite grasp where our minds were wondering at that time, but I clearly remember we were putting a sketch of the idea together while the Make48 speaker was still announcing some guidelines of the challenge. Of course, that was a rough draft that went through several brainstorming sessions, but yes, the concept was there within less than 5 minutes of the start of the 48 hours.
Although it sounds like an awesome start, we went to great lengths until we came up with the final prototype. For most of our first day, we were focusing on another idea, where we did a thorough analysis and decided to not move forward due to the similarity with already existing products in the market.
At the competition you told me that this was one of your favorite competitions you’ve done. What made it different from the others and what did you enjoy most about it?
First of all, shoutout to all people involved in the organization, the tech team, the guys from GoCreate, and the other competitors. The environment that was created for this competition was unique, supportive, and super fun! The techs were there to help us at any time, with any absurd idea that we may have come up with. The organization was impeccable, access to lawyers to check on the patentability of our ideas, the stipend to spend on prototyping, the always supportive message from all the staff there; all of that was crucial for us to keep going after not sleeping for a long period of time. The camaraderie between us, the tool tech team, and the other competitors made this competition unique and that's why it is one of our favs!
We can’t wait to see you guys next year at the Nationals. What are you most looking forward to?
And we can't wait to be there! We are looking forward to pushing ourselves once again, brainstorming ideas, interacting with the other teams, and of course, seeing you all again! We had such a fun time and great learning experience that we can't wait for those 48 hours to come our way again. We are curious about what will be the topic for this challenge, but no matter the topic we are certain that we will give our best and hopefully be able to sleep some hours during this one.