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Statement of Objectives for acceptance to MIT's Media Lab
Statement of Objectives for acceptance to MIT's Media Lab
For MIT’s Media Lab Tyler Selby
When thinking about the incredible amount of change taking place in the world, I often try to imagine what it would have been like to live at the cusp of something new during other revolutions from the past - those working to invent the future and setting precedents that would improve incrementally thereafter. Was the first automobile as awkward and socially uncomfortable as it is to see those with Google Glasses walking down the road?
People adapt to these changes quickly and it becomes the new normal. People begin to find it difficult to imagine their lives without it. I think we are at the cusp of the next transformation that will change how we interact with our world and technology. I believe I have been seeing, experimenting and preparing myself to help the future integrate into reality and become impregnated on our social memory.
I believe that the chance to become a part of the Media Lab is a perfect opportunity to liaison from merely a cognitive framework being constructed within myself to something I am actively working on and engaging with others and with the world to rebalance my focus between equally thinking and doing. I find true, unbridled enjoyment backed with courage and energy when creating something new. To help people solve new problems and provide purpose and meaning to our lives is something I strive toward. I want to use my design perspective to balance the technology aspect of future problem solving.
I am a multi-faceted person who wants to take my architectural background and become a multidisciplinary designer that allows me to solve design problems without being restricted by a single medium.
Following my interests has always led to success. I like to think, and I trust my intuition to provide direction. I have rigor and the confidence of having a strong process for finding solutions. I think with my hands, by doing. I like taking the time to investigate and test out ideas. Through that testing, it allows for progress and refining of ideas. In order to push limits you have to be in an environment that allows for this flexibility. I believe I will find that in the Media Lab.
I see the world differently. Others helped me understand this from a young age but only later would I begin to understand this difference was in fact an extension of my curiosity of how things work and the systems hidden within. I like to think how we engage with our world.
I am interested in the way people think, behave and learn. I am passionate about understanding the world around me and trying to make it a better place to be. I enjoy rich dialogue. I want to be engaged with my environment.
Teaching architecture and product design at Duke TIP helped me to learn from both perspectives. I developed my own curriculum based around exploratory learning. I asked the student to use the world around them and what they know as a framework for seeing opportunities and figuring out ways to integrate solutions into the world. I helped the students learn how to engage with their environment. As a teacher, I understood the learning side even better. It helped me complete the circle of taking knowledge, processing it and putting the information back out there. Watching the students and leading them in exploration helped me to understand how people bridge their schema to new learning.
Through the lens of architecture, which took place over 10 semesters of studio, I was able to develop myself as a designer. I refined my curiosity and funneled my creativity and developed a good understanding of how to solve difficult problems and create new solutions. Working at the scale of architecture has given me a strong foundation in the ability to engage in our built environment. It allowed me to see, using a wide lens, where I should focus my energy and provided a fantastic catalyst for taking natural talent and interest in the world into something I can use to contribute.
While completing my Masters of Architecture, I completed a five month internship in Paris, France with design studio Odile Decq. It was a fantastic experience working with a diverse team of international designers that were passionate about visual design without compromising on creating great spaces for people. At the studio, I confirmed that good design is in the process and to not rush that process; to take the time needed to try many solutions and find the best solution.
While working at RTKL in Dallas and NBBJ in New York, I was introduced to the Middle East and Asia/Pacific cultures. Working at each of these firms expanded my view on the world from relativity domestic in scale to worldwide. Working 11,000 miles from the client and project site allowed me to understand how far our existing methods of communication begin to strain and break from the pressure of connecting ideas through phone calls and powerpoint presentations. As a designer, I found it difficult to work without strong connections to the people and places that we were creating buildings for. My curiosity led me to travel to China to gain firsthand experience and to see what life was like in Shanghai. That trip helped me to have a better understanding of eastern cultures.
I want to use my skills as a designer to help people live, work and play - more enjoyably, successfully and engaged. I want to gain depth in the behaviors of people and their intuition and what choices people make in the moment. What are the elements that help people make good decisions? How do people recognize opportunity and what makes for engagement? What is the threshold between someone thinking something versus someone actually doing it?
I became heavily involved with incorporating computational design and process-based methods; leveraging the naive excitement from others to capitalize on using computers to explore the use of new digital methods to handle the ever increasingly complex elements and client demands for almost immediate synthesis.
I extended my work into after hours to investigate and explore ideas I had on my own. It was a natural evolution of exploring design computation and researching the interconnectedness between things digital and physical. My research projects included:
Studying User Engagement to Improve Existing Environments: The project looked at whether or not people have acted upon existing methods to solve their problems (windows, shades, HVAC controls.) Did they invent new solutions or did they choose to not act upon? Did they find alternative methods to solve their problems?
Everyday Making, Evolution of Ad Hoc Tools: I aimed to study indigenous cultures to observe methods of problem solving and how they began to extend their utility of the invention of tools. I wanted to study how the people used their environment for social gatherings.
Temperature Sensing Project: This project used Grasshopper (a visual programming plugin for Rhino) as a way to interface the digital design space to physical space through the use of Arduinos, sensors and 12v fans to help regulate the overbearing heat in my small Brooklyn apartment in the winter. I incorporated data from Weather Underground to begin to use changing weather conditions to increase the awareness of the hand-built thermostat.
Making Environments More Interactive: My firefly project explored the use of a distributed set of small LEDs to impersonate a group of fireflies in the trees. The fireflies interacted with vehicles as they passed by, with the intention for the driver to react and be influenced in a subtle way to communicate to the driver his speed and create a desire to slow down.
Three years ago I wrote down my perfect work environment. I wrote down a balance between exploring, teaching and working collaboratively. After visiting the Media Lab three years ago, I had the opportunity to become aware of what was going on inside the Lab. That visit left a big impact on me. It is something I continue to think about and I have continued to explore ideas on my own. After visiting again this fall, it seems like a natural fit for me. I want to be part of a group of people who are interested in making the future.
The Media Lab is a place where I can take my experience as a designer and expand into all of the related topics that architecture and design get to touch but never get to work on and solve. I appreciate how it is rooted in strong disciplines of architecture, engineering and science. When I visited the Lab, I saw people interested in the same things I have been investigating on my own for many years.
The first one is investigating the connection between our digital and physical worlds and how the two might find existence in a single reality, best demonstrated by Tangible Bits.
The second one is gaining a deep understanding of people's behavior to investigate the use of intuition as part of the design solution, as similarly explored by Playful Systems.
I believe design can find significance when it facilitates success in people by more than giving them a tool to hold in their hands. It begins to work on a more systematic level of behaviors and routines and becomes solutions. Both of these ideas investigate extending design's impact beyond the traditional roles between the designer and the people we help through design.