Wednesday, June 11, 2014

EVENT RE:View - Your Green Future

University showcase events have got a bit grander since my undergraduate days.

Last week was invited to bring along our RE:use ideas stand to this event, spanning two days.

In that time about twenty schools attended, sending pupils ranging from about 10 to 16 years of age, in class batches of about 30.

Amongst a variety of other things (I lost my stand-assistant son the second day as he ended up as a judge on a Dragon's Den feature elsewhere) the classes roamed the exhibition hall tasked with gaining an appreciation of what various 'eco' companies were, what they did, how their products or services contributed to sustainability, etc, plus what was involved career-wise should these be seen as appealing avenues to pursue.

The hall presented an eclectic bunch.

In addition to several University of Worcester (host campus - ironically where 'Chief of Stuff' Emma graduated from and who carried out our RE:tie market research) departments (including Computing and Robotics, with a 3D printer set-up I found most interesting given our RE:tie prototyping adventures and future design ambitions for new product ideas) & council sustainability offerings, there were such as Green Buying, marketing green products, World Aluminium, the Canal & River Trust  and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (who had a Stirling Engine model that has inspired my next Junkk project - watch this space... Already located and ordered from amazon to reverse engineer!).

Plus of course, (son included):

What was nice was the level of interactivity we could all offer the students, which made it very much a 'hands-on' experience'. This stand from actonenergy had a thermal imaging camera and, as you can see, yours truly was hot stuff:

There were sadly few opportunities for distractions, especially when I lost my lovely assistant, but I actually did come up with a new idea whilst there that I'll be adding to the site soon which many of the kids really liked... a totally easy cable labelling system... and also noticed another possible opportunity whilst rummaging under the table. If ever there looked to be a mass volume item that currently needs buying whose function surely could be met free with 'Junkk' materials, this is it:

So how was it all? Was it worth it?

Overall, yes. Kids, like adults, come in all shapes and sizes, so we got the 'get it over with' box-tickers, the 'why bother?' brigade but... also some real sweethearts vowing to go back home to search the site for inspiration. That is always nice.

All the teachers who visited were also very positive. Even got a few guys from various eco NGO/charity outfits swinging by. All very keen for us to come and exhibit at their fayre/expo/whatever.

The trouble is, exhibiting takes a lot of time and often money to get there. I was kindly offered expenses to be at this one but really it doesn't help much on the mortgage. Looking around the hall almost all others there I am pretty sure were getting paid in some form for their time too.

I need to get my head around this better. As clearly there are opportunities to see such contributions getting official support/sponsorship. And though not eco, which at least does carry a raft of benefits educationally, this example of what can get funded (a lot)* made me smile:

Whatever else, no one can accuse of being a waste:)

I was thinking of attending this, but it is a fair old hike. But maybe turning into a social enterprise or charity is, ironically, a way to actually cover costs if not make some money.

We do serve a pretty useful, as well as re-useful purpose, after all!

*Addendum - 17 June 14

For wry smiles, this also served well:

Especially seeing this: "The FoI requests revealed Cole had been awarded the second £150,000 of her award despite failing to fulfil the criteria. Nesta told us had been released the money for "achieving scale" – despite not actually having launched. That's quite an achievement. When asked if it could define "scale", Nesta failed to respond."

That's quite an amount.

Maybe it's more 'who you know' than 'what you are actually trying to achieve?'

Interestingly. NESTA is getting a lot of profile across normal and social media with its latest largesse.

One hopes the most money goes where it will do the most good, less expenses of course. The results, and numbers (beyond that eye-watering £10M to play with), will be interesting.

We used to submit to such prizes, but given the effort required vs. what seemed to win, we have tended to avoid them now.