Pick’n Run using The Alley Makerspace

Being a Michigan Tech student has many benefits. One of them is being able to access and coach workshops promote creating at the Alley Makerspace.  The Alley Makerspace is a place run by Michigan Tech students to allow students, faculty, and staff to work on building things that inspire them or are part of their course work at the university.

The location of the Alley has a fun history tied to it.  The location in the basement of the Memorial Union Building was once a bowling alley for Michigan Tech students.  A group of upperclassmen decided to convert it to a makerspace for Michigan Tech students to have access to when they need tools for their projects.

For only being open for about two years, word is starting to spread  among students about the Alley. In fact, an engineering course for freshmen requires students to use the Alley to design wind turbines this year. My first engineering course last year didn’t get to use the Alley once, which I was a tad bit jealous (and still is). I only heard about the Alley when my dad messaged me their link.

This year, my dad convinced me to take the opportunity of becoming a coach at the Alley, which I did. The requirements while being a coach are the following: 1) complete the training, 2) participate/complete one workshop improvement project, and 3) work for at least two hours per week. A benefit of being a coach is having access during closing hours, which means being able to access equipments to work on the prototype bags.

Now with access to the Alley, it is time to make.

Photo Credit: Magann Dykema

Article: 5-year-old opts for “trash pickup” birthday party

This is fun to see happening at a young age: a 5-year-old designs a birthday party where her and her friends pick up trash.

In the article by Jeanmarie Evellyl, she explains how Emma Mudrick organized a birthday party to pick up trash with her friends: a “Trash Pickup” bash. They walked the neighborhood in Astoria (New York) and picked up trash.  It is wonderful see a young person take this initiative to keep man-made trash off the streets. From reading the article, it sound as if she went all out and while also receiving support from the Astoria Sanitation Department:

“The young party-goers decorated their own aprons, donned work gloves and used toy claws to pick up garbage during their nearly 1-mile trek through Astoria.  The city’s Sanitation Department even donated pins and coloring books as party favors.”

This hits home to me as it relates to picking up trash, and that Emma wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up.  Our daughter, Naya, also wants to be a zookeeper.

Note: DNAInfo is where this article was published online. From the CEO’s Nov 2nd notice, the site will cease to exist soon, so the link to the article might not be accessible in the future.

Second Prototype Design and Making Process

On July 13, 2016, I finished designing, sewing, and piecing the fabric together to create the second Pick’n Run prototype bag. Below are the photos of the completed prototype.

The first change you’ll notice is the material that was used. Instead of the cheap fabric from the first prototype that was used as a practice for my sewing, I purchased quality material from two local fabric stores called Field’s Fabric and JOANN Fabrics and Crafts. The second change is the design. I ended up  laying out a new design to test an idea based on two questions: 1. would using a vertical bag  make it easier to put and store trash than using a horizontal bag (use gravity and the runner’s movement to keep trash in the bag)   and 2. would having less straps keep the bag sturdy than having three straps as the previous prototype? You can see in the gallery below. Click on a photo to enlarge the image.


Compared to the first prototype bag, I used a different shape to make the bag more of a funnel with the volume increasing the further you get from the top. That way more trash could be stored without having to worry about them falling out. And as for the strap, even though it was made for another backpack, it allows me to test if this kind of strap would work for our backpacks.

So far, it is still being tested by myself and others. To read the feedback from each test, click on these links to access the blog posts with the feedback:

Article: Why Japan Wants Your Junk

With China no longer accept recyclable items from recycling programs and companies sometime soon, Japan “may be the first to seize the opportunity.” It is especially environmentally friendlier  and cheaper when “mining” electronic wastes. Large amount of minerals are collected at a much cheaper labor cost than actually digging a mine. How much minerals is actually is actually extraordinary. You can read more about it and a solution to China’s blockage in imported recyclables in the link below.

Article: Why Japan Wants Your Junk

Article: Woah! Seattle Kept 2 Million Plastic Straws Out of the Ocean in 1 Month

Actor and environmentalist Adrian Grenier created a campaign called Strawless in Seattle to eliminate the use of straws. Seattle participated in it, and in September alone, “over 2 million plastic straws were eliminated from the city.” Seattle citizens, 150+ Seattle business, restaurants, and venues participated in it to help reduce the amount of trash from plastic straws.

Article: Woah! Seattle Kept 2 Million Plastic Straws Out of the Ocean in 1 Month – Here’s How

Since plastic straws are one of the smallest single-use items that we throw away (Americans use over 500 million plastic straws every day), it causes large amount of trash. By convincing people to limit their use of single-use plastics, it would decrease the rate of trash produced. So start going straw-less.