The Garage Experience is the capstone course in the Academy curriculum. As such it is intended to be a culminating and integrating experience - an opportunity for you to bring together the knowledge you've acquired and the skills you've developed over the last three years in a project of your own choosing.

The title of the course evokes famous garages of tech lore: EDISON, TESLA, BELL LABS, APPLE, GOOGLE.

And especially the one at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto California where, in 1939, two twenty-somethings Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett built eight audio oscillators and sold them to Walt Disney Studios. Some consider this to be the birth of Silicon Valley.

In this course students take an idea of their own from initial conception toward the launch of a new venture.

The journey will be full of twists and turns,

false starts and wrong turns

and it won't be the same for any two projects.

The Garage Experience will challenge you:

  • to identify a problem worth solving
  • recognize the skills and perspectives beyond your own that are needed to solve the problem
  • work with others on that problem
  • apply human centered creative problem solving to the pursuit of a solution
  • develop solutions that are feasible, viable, and desirable
  • organize your work to reach a goal in the time and space available

How will we proceed?

To be admitted to the Garage Experience each student must be a member of a team that has had a garage project proposal accepted by the faculty. Proposals must be submitted in time to be revised multiple times before being accepted by the end of spring semester of the student's 3rd year. We're serious about that: don't expect to have a proposal accepted on first submission.

Once your proposal is accepted, you can register for the class and continue to build your team.

What should your proposal look like?

A GX proposal includes a well-researched description of a problem worth solving, a sketch of how you plan to BEGIN TO explore the problem. It does NOT include what you think the solution is unless this is a project you have already been working on for a long time. And it should include a reflection on why it makes sense for YOU to tackle this problem - what do you bring to the task? -
and whom else do you think you will need help from?

How do we get there?

Let's start by turning our attention to some corner of human experience that has grabbed your attention for some reason. Try to cast your glance a bit further afield than yourself and your peer group. It might be hard to hear, but the problems of students at elite universities are not necessarily the best starting point for this exercise. At the start, think big. Think moonshots. Think zero to one.

Affordable housing. Mosquito borne disease. Arts education. Access to justice. Organ donation. Gentrification. Public transit. Childcare. Fake news. Political participation.

But now that you have a problem arena, how do you identify a problem worth solving?

Question 1: IS it a problem? Can you point to a pain, a loss, a cost?
Question 2: Is it SOMEBODY'S problem? We take "human centered" seriously. Whose pain? Whose cost?
Question 3: Does it need you? How do people deal with this now? Why might this be an opportunity for you?
Nobody is offering solutions
Existing solutions are too expensive, out of reach of many who have the problem, involve undesirable side effects?
Might new ideas yield substantially better results? Cheaper? Or they'd be more humane or sustainable? More politically viable?

The point is we won't believe you if you tell us no one has ever recognized this problem before. Somebody has. Show us you've learned something about how people deal with this problem now.

And then tell us what your angle is, how you will start your creative solving process.

And finally, tell us what you bring to the task and what kind of a team you'll need to get the job done.