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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Design Squad: Pretty much the opposite of The O.C. by Melis A. '08

A show where 8 teenagers use their engineering skills to build some really cool stuff.

As a kid, I always secretly dreamed of being on a TV show. Had there been a program like Design Squad – a new reality design competition series produced by Boston’s public broadcasting station, WGBH – maybe my dream could have been realized. But alas, the show is only airing its first episode tomorrow (watch it now by clicking here).

“Eight high schoolers design and build machines — from dragsters to an automatic pancake maker — for real-life clients.

Over 13 weeks and under intense pressure, Design Squad cast members learn to think smart, build fast, and contend with an array of engineering challenges. Working in groups of four, each team has just two days to complete the project. Challenges range from converting kiddie toys into a dragster to creating moving art for a museum and designing a low-cost peanut butter machine for a women’s collective in Haiti. Heeding advice from Design Squad’s engineer hosts — twentysomething duo Nate and Deanne — contestants brainstorm, design, build, test, and redesign before putting their work to the test. Keeping their eyes on the grand prize — a $10,000 college scholarship from the Intel Foundation — Design Squad cast members discover that engineering can make anything possible.” – WGBH website

Since one of the hosts of the show, Nate Ball, is an MIT student and this is National Engineering Week, there was a sneak preview of the show today in the largest lecture hall in the Stata Center. Not only was the audience packed with parents, children, and students, but almost the entire cast was also in attendance. (Oh, and one of the high school students on the show was admitted to MIT early action, so maybe she’ll be your classmate next year!)

Nate is currently getting his Masters at MIT and he graduated last year with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I had the opportunity to work for him for a while, since we are both in the BioInstrumentation Lab. In other exciting news, he just won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventiveness. His inventions include a Lorentz-force actuator that is being used in the lab’s needle-free injector and a powered rope ascender (climbs a 30-story building in 30 seconds!)

If you’re interested, the show will be airing Saturday at 11:30 am on WGBH. Afterwards, you will be able to watch episodes on the website: http://www.pbskidsgo.org/designsquad.

29 responses to “Design Squad: Pretty much the opposite of The O.C.”

  1. KO. says:

    Ha! First POSt

  2. Josh V says:

    ahhhh. soo cool. def nothing like this in seattle!

  3. Sammy says:

    Yeah… nothing like this in Egypt too.

  4. Warren says:

    There is definitely nothing like this in Burma. I watched the show and I thought it was entertaining. A must see!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dude, Nate Ball is my hero! No lie, no lie. Way cool.

  6. milena says:

    whoa. I was blown away. It’s like Project Runway! Sort of. I love that kind of tv shows. And the host! wow…. he’s HOT! LOL

    I love it.

  7. Solomon says:

    Nothing like this either in Ghana.

  8. Eoin says:

    I agree, the host is a dish…and I am happy to see so many budding engineers. It seems like a great kids show.

  9. John S. says:

    unless i’m living under a beachhead (possible in Cali) nothing like this in CA. engineering doesn’t sell in Hollywood.

  10. this so much dat i alwas wish to do……….

  11. Jose says:

    Melis,

    Hi. Very nice blog you have here, I had just a quick question about transfer admission. Because so few students are admitted as undergraduate transfer students (~2%), I was wondering if you knew of any students that had transferred to MIT, and if so do you happen to know from what college(s). I am curious because I will be applying soon as a transfer applicant.

    Thanks,

    -Jose Z.
    [email protected]

  12. Johnie says:

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  13. Kim Z says:

    That’s me in the blue hat!
    You all should totally watch this show… Its actually surprisingly funny for a show aimed at middle schoolers. And it is very possible that I will be attending MIT next year!
    Yay for MIT and Design Squad!
    Great blog, Melis!
    Kim

  14. Vishal says:

    Yeah, nothing like this in Nepal either. But, certainly like this if we all get in MIT ie. where there is no such opportunity. So, hope to get all opportunities not in our palces. Right?? and using them to perfection.

  15. Ivy says:

    ur from DC!!! yayayayayyayayayay!!!I’m really curious as to which high school u attended….i’m currently at benjamin banneker high school…and ur doing one of my possible majors too! mechanical engineering! i watched the show, and it’s pretty awesome! i’m kinda disappointed that i didn’t find out about it earlier…i wish i could do something that cool…but where do they find 13 weeks to do all that stuff?! do they like give up a bit of their school year?! i would like totally get kicked out of my school if i did….coolest thing i’ve done, was also at ur school, i did the MIT InvenTeams program with my school last year, it was AWESOME!!! Man…I can’t wait till college! If i ever get accepted into MIT, i’ll probably get a heart attack! man…u guyz totally rock! and u guyz are better than cal tech, hehe, i LUVED the fleming cannon prank!!!….and WHOA!!! Nate is SUPER DUPER UPER AWESOME if he won the lemelson MIT student award!!! i met the 2003 winner, James McLurkin ? i luv that guy!!! and i found out his aunt went to banneker, so i tried to invite him over…so far, no luck wink i luv this blog ur from DC!!! yayayayayyayayayay!!!I’m really curious as to which high school u attended….i’m currently at benjamin banneker high school…and ur doing one of my possible majors too! mechanical engineering! i watched the show, and it’s pretty awesome! i’m kinda disappointed that i didn’t find out about it earlier…i wish i could do something that cool…but where do they find 13 weeks to do all that stuff?! do they like give up a bit of their school year?! i would like totally get kicked out of my school if i did….coolest thing i’ve done, was also at ur school, i did the MIT InvenTeams program with my school last year, it was AWESOME!!! Man…I can’t wait till college! If i ever get accepted into MIT, i’ll probably get a heart attack! man…u guyz totally rock! and u guyz are better than cal tech, hehe, i LUVED the fleming cannon prank!!!….and WHOA!!! Nate is SUPER DUPER UPER AWESOME if he won the lemelson MIT student award!!! i met the 2003 winner, James McLurkin ? i luv that guy!!! and i found out his aunt went to banneker, so i tried to invite him over…so far, no luck wink i luv this blog <3

  16. Lois says:

    Hey Melis and everyone!

    Design Squad’s consultants also hail from MIT — Profs. Dave Wallace and Dan Frey. Both hold appointments in the Mechanical Engineering department and MIT’s Engineering Systems Division.

    Engineering Systems is a very cool new field. Check it out at http://esd.mit.edu/

    smile

  17. Margaret says:

    Actually, we are now hunting for a cast for our second season of Design Squad, which we hope to film this summer in Boston. To participate, you must live in the Boston area (within daily commuting distance), be 16-19 years old (graduating HS seniors may audition) and you must be available this summer and weekends this spring. We’re holding auditions by APPOINTMENT ONLY this Thursday March 1st from 4pm-6pm, this Saturday March 3rd all day, and we’ve just added another audition date, Monday March 5th from 4pm-6pm. For more information and to schedule an audition appointment, contact us at [email protected] or 617-300-3833. Thanks!

  18. Melis says:

    Thank you all for your extremely constructive comments!

    Jose: I do know a transfer student, he transferred from his college (I believe it was a state school in the midwest) to MIT after taking a year off in between. I also know two other students who transferred because of Hurricane Katrina.

    Kim: Yay! I’m glad you read my blog!

    Ivy: They taped the show during the summer, so none of the participants had to miss school (Kim, correct me if I’m wrong.) To answer your other question, I went to Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. It’s really neat that you know the 2003 Lemelson winner! Thanks for reading!

    Lois: Engineering Systems is definitely very neat, thanks for the link. Also, Prof. Wallace is a great guy, maybe I’ll try to interview him for this blog.

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  21. Jose says:

    “Jose: I do know a transfer student, he transferred from his college (I believe it was a state school in the midwest) to MIT after taking a year off in between. I also know two other students who transferred because of Hurricane Katrina. “

    Oh wow. Thanks so much for the information! ^_^ You can’t imagine what preparation I have been doing to prepare myself to apply.

    From completing an internship, to preparing myself to take the GRE subjects in math and physics early…it has been a lot.

    If possible I’d like to ask that student what extraordinary qualifications they had to be in the top 2% of the transfer applicant pool. Would it be possible to list their email or at least email it to me?

    -Thanks So Much

    -Jose

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  25. Melusi says:

    I agree, this is such a great show… I understand new episodes coming out April 1st. I think teachers should show it in classrooms. How can we contact the creators of the show?

  26. Austin says:

    I totally agree, Design Squad is a great show, I know they have news episodes coming in April. I hope they can keep it running year round! Any ideas anyone?

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  29. Melis says:

    Hi Melusi,

    I’m sure if you contact [email protected] or 617-300-3833, they could put you in contact with the creators of the show.