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Troy team featured in PBS invention competition

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Photo of three young men in yellow shirts
Some of the members of invenTROY

On Thursday, September 24th at 7:30 PM, WMHT will air Season 4 of the show, Make48. When viewers tune in, they will discover one of the teams competing is from Troy, NY team invenTROY.

Composed of four members, Anasha Cummings, Dan Falkenstrom, Adam Siemiginowski and Sam Wechsler the group met at Tech Valley Center of Gravity in downtown Troy where they are all members of the makerspace. As a team, they wanted to leverage this national opportunity to showcase the maker community so they made sure to incorporate TROY in the name.

Once the team formed, during the summer of 2019 they produced a video, completed their applications and shared why they wanted to compete on the show. In January of 2020, the team found out they were accepted and filming happened the following month, in Kansas City.

The premise of Make48, as the name alludes, is each team has 48 hours to plan, prototype and pitch a new idea within the specifications of a challenge. And as the saying goes, “teamwork makes the dreamwork” so teams must collaborate, solve a problem and build a physical prototype based on one of the challenges within the category.

“Inventing against the clock” no doubt brings rewards and challenges. The team shared, knowing each member's different strengths and skills, they wanted to play off of those and amplify them to the team's benefit. They shared that many of the contestants on Make48 had no experience making things but, what some teams lacked in experience, all teams brought high levels of enthusiasm and creativity to the process. The competition provides mentors from all sectors (patent law, business, marketing, commercialization), as well as “Tool Techs” who are fabrication wizards capable of bringing any idea into reality.

The energy, the adrenaline and the ticking clock can be exhilarating but also bring with it stress. Post experience, the team reflected, remembering to hydrate, eat healthy food, exercise and rest are critical aspects of the creative process. Letting go of perfection and doing some research before getting too deep into the design phase are also important factors. The team pointed out the importance of learning about any technical, legal or other restrictions to a potential design early on and that often comes with asking lots of questions and being flexible with potential ideas!

Looking back on the experience, Team invenTROY feels they made the most of this unique opportunity. They gave the Make48 competition everything they had and hands-down would compete again if given the chance.

And to all creators, young and old, Team invenTROY offers the following insights: Whatever the idea, keep it simple and make it with whatever is available to you. Turn your idea into something physical that you can use to get feedback. This will help you narrow in on the skills you need to learn to move to the next step. Want to build a new type of table but don’t know how to use woodworking tools yet? They suggest building it out of accessible objects and materials to play around with shape and dimensions. Have an idea for an app but don’t know how to code? Use paper and markers to figure out what all the pages will look like and where the buttons will be positioned. Team invenTROY encourages people to join their local makerspace, inventor’s club, etc…, if there isn’t one, start one. Additionally they say view the creative process as a chance to give back and make things for the community. While it might not be possible right now, they suggest going to maker events, applying to hackathons as well as competing. And finally, get started, have fun, and know that plans will take a bit longer than expected but the process will be filled with opportunities to learn.

Make48 season 4 premieres this Thursday, September 24th on WMHT-TV at 7:30 PM. One winning team will be chosen, and the remainder of the series highlights the process of taking the winning product through a journey of product development.

Way to go team invenTROY! We welcome everyone to follow along on social media with #Make48 and #GoMake48.