Wk 7: 3/4 -3/11

Updates for this week: a.) Finish the ‘Making’ kiosk!, b.) Watch +2 thesis presentations, c.) Make midterm presentations, d.) Update rfid tag code, e.) Be upset…then recalibrate plan based on COVID-19/remote school

a.) Finish the ‘Making’ kiosk!

Fabrication-wise, this week has been about finally finishing up the first kiosk. All that was left was building the top frame to house both the scanning slot and the screen. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Nonetheless it is done! There is some sanding and painting left but I think I should leave that for later, especially now that there’s a rush to work remote.

b.) Watch +2 thesis presentations

I chose to watch the thesis presentations of Jasmine Soltani, Aaron Parsekian, and Mathura Govindarajan mostly because their topics are similar to the work I am doing and plan to continue doing. I especially wanted to watch Jasmine’s because I have been emailing/talking with her throughout my research process and she has been incredibly helpful in providing references. Before this COVID-19, we (ITP Trash) were even trying to get her and Aaron to lead a teardown on our floor.

Jasmine Soltani

Jasmine’s thesis video


  • Embodied energy of electronics: mining of raw material, manufacturing, transportation, retails; Embodied energy refers to energy consumed at all these phases. 
  • She set out to create a tool to easily compare embodied energy of electronic components
  • Need to personally look into “Greener guide”
  • Thinking about obsolete objects

Biggest Takeaways:

  • While I knew that Jasmine’s thesis was about e-waste, this was the first time I watched her thesis talk. It proved to be extremely helpful. I enjoy the fact that are outputs are so different yet our concerns are very similar.
  • I loved that she also talked about the issue and research itself. It wasn’t just about her project but also about the research she had done. It was fabulous because it felt like a lecture on the embodied energy and life cycle in electronics. Unfortunate it was only 10 minutes because I’m sure she could’ve talked more about her research.
  • She mentions ITP Power. Note to self: mention ITP Trash team in thank you slide!

Aaron Parsekian

Aaron’s thesis video


  • Personal challenge: do something high tech using nothing but trash
  • Environmental impact of technology → cynical
  • High tech equipment is a blessing → but can we do without? 
  • Only used easily obtained recycled materials
  • Return to fundamentals of tech → focus on materials 
  • How it is eco-friendly → environmental impact

Biggest Takeaways:

  • The choice of materials and minerals is so important. This is a helpful note.
  • Being aware of how to not be wasteful is a key part of his thesis
  • It is important to mention the environmental impact that all our physical creations have

Mathura M Govindarajan

Mathura’s thesis video


  • Like that she notes how electronics engineering is extremely interesting but acknowledges that it is also unapproachable, especially for kids
  • Nice line! – “Kindle the same curiosity of electronics as opening a Christmas gift”
  • She is very clear about who it is for and her process
  • Walks through a.)metrics she had, b.)audience, c.) research/inspiration, d.) storyboard, e.) feedback 
  • 1st user testing at NY Hall of Science
    • It was very great that she included actual quotes from the kids she user tested from
  • Created a super demo video of the book and how to interact with it→ amazing! 
  • 2nd user testing
    • Good that people didn’t use it the way she expected. She framed this unpredictable behavior in a positive light
  • Mentions the 2nd version of the book she wants to make. Wonderful looking forward idea. It is specific enough of a future plan that I really think she will make it.

c.) Make Midterm Presentations

Creating a coherent midterm presentation actually took more time than expected but also proved to be very helpful. It was a good exercise in trying to synthesize all the work that has been done and to frame it in the bigger picture of my life/body of work.

Midterm presentation slides are here

d.) Update the code for the RFID Tag

It’s been a while since I touched the code for the RFID tag. I also needed to see if the RFID would still scan if there was pegboard and wood covering it. Turns out it still does read very well even with a bunch of pegboard covering it.

Updated code for that is here

e.) Be Sad + Recalibrate

Being sad is actually a super necessary step to moving forward. I’m just upset at a lot of things… I’m upset at how COVID-19 is effecting the feasibility of thesis. I’m upset that I spent a lot of tuition money and will have students loans for a program that is now online. I’m upset at how our government has been handling this pandemic. I’m upset that in a time like this our government has hesitated/doesn’t know how to provide free testing. I’m upset at how democratic primaries are going. I’m upset that the one candidate who would fight and has fought for universal healthcare is being outvoted somehow. I’m upset that people in certain professions are putting themselves in danger. I’m upset that people in certain professions will not be able to work but financially need to. I’m upset so many people have already passed because of this. I’m upset because this epidemic reminds me of a small scale version of what’ll happen when the climate crisis is so bad that there’s really no point in anything. I’m upset at the state of the world and the many stupid things we do, including myself (but not at the enormous scale that governments and corporations operate at), for the sake of convenience and greed. 

(I’ve also started reading ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ this week so I might be spiraling.)

Despite it all, I feel grateful for my specific situation and for the fact that my family is relatively healthy.

In terms of recalibration, I’ve brought the one kiosk that is done home. Other than that, idk exactly what I’ll do about anything.