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Brian Lin

Astoria, NY, United States

Member since September 08, 2008

  • Conflicted...



    So I'm a little bit conflicted on my thesis. Not so much the topic, but I guess more about what aspect of it I'm going to be targeting. Right now I'm set on targeting the well-being of the workers in Africa that do the melting of circuit boards, etc. from the e-waste that is shipping to Nigeria. I'm considering some sort of sustainable, yet affordable protective gear that would shield them from being constantly exposed to the toxic chemicals and gases that are offset from the burning of these devices preventing internal harm and illness.

    So the problem is, I'm saying that since this is their economy and it's something that they're going to be doing none the less, I want to make it less harmful which is where the potential gear comes into play. But at the same time, what about the surrounding people that live around these areas where the disassembling takes place? They are also affected by offset chemicals and toxins in the air. Not to mention the seeping of toxic chemicals into the earth affecting their soil, environment, and agriculture. It becomes a much larger issue.

    What I'm conflicted about is whether I'm focusing in too small on the issue where it seems I'm only really protecting the workers that are involved and not really considering those around them as well or the environment, or if every little bit helps and this could just be one step to improving it even more.

    Comments??? Questions???

  • Hello!

    Focus is rarely wasted. Perhaps depth could be enhanced. Also, the 'big picture' implications come around in some time beyond the immediate. It's like the focus and depth eventually lead to the surroundings etc etc. Caution is also sometimes needed but optimism can help in that as well. "Where's that coming from?" If its a good place - you'll prolly be ok.

  • It is hard to have one design that solve all kinds issues, therefore I think it is good to be specific on one. Otherwise, you can focus a product that has reason to be use by all, such as protective wear that offset chemicals and toxins in that area. Than you can include everyone.

  • brian, i think that as a starting point for your research, dealing with one "local" problem, even if it seems small or partial at the moment, is the key to really solve that certain problem. your project can always have phase 2 and 3. The circle you create now, your solution, will eventually grow bigger and include more problems related to the original thesis, and more solutions. I think you need to focus and narrow it down to a level that you have a potential user (you can even name him/her...) in front of your eyes and not the global problem. Hope i helped a bit...

  • Brian

    I think it is a really interesting topic. I recently saw an article in the magazine called: Technology Review, the article is called Where Cell Phones Go to Die. It is really interesting essays talking about cell phones nowadays have take back programs. Most of them went into ReCellular (nation’s largest cell-phone recycling facility, which is based in Dexter, MI) if the cell phone’s is good in shape it will be reselling and refurbished. The one that’s broken will go to Sims Recycling Solutions in Chicago.(each month they receives more than 30,000 pounds) To get out the silver, gold and palladium from cell phones. A ton of cell phones can get 80 ounces of silver, eight ounces of gold and three ounces of palladium. Maybe you can look into how the company recycles the cell phones what kind of protections gear they have to protect them from toxic chemicals and further compare it with people in Africa.

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  • Brian, It's an interesting topic, and you should for sure not decide to reject this idea for your thesis because you feel that it is only a partial solution. You are not responsible for fixing the whole world, and your relatively small intervention might snowball by bringing to light the problem. This might stimulate others to think about other aspects of the problem. Certainly, poor people are not going to turn down work, even if there is a long-term health risk associated with a job, so the point is to make an impact in a way that is practical.

    If I were you, I would be spending more energy thinking about how you can actually create a product that will achieve your goals. What will be different and better about your product as compared to other things that already exist? Are you talking about making a new kind of respirator that is particularly well-suited to protecting against off-gassing from industrial processes that call for melting metals? I'm sure such products already exist. Why aren't they currently being used in this environment? Is it that people don't know its dangerous, they don't care, or they don't have the money, or something else? These are the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself right now. Is there some local material that could be used to make the equipment very cheaply? Would it be plastic, and if so, do you have the skills necessary to produce a prototype here at Parsons? Would this involve making molds and then producing resin castings? You are getting to the point in the process when you need to make some very practical decisions, based on an honest appraisal of what you want to be working on for the next 8 months. steven

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My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design