Noah Rauschkolb, Class of 2015

Major: Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering (with Columbia University); Organization: S-Sense Design; Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Noah Rauschkolb, Class of 2015

This summer, I worked directly for TED Fellow Adital Ela in the S-Sense Design Studio in Tel Aviv, Israel. The studio focuses on promoting sustainable design practice and thinking. To that end, I worked on a number of projects that were intended to holistically embody the ideals of sustainable design.

Our flagship project was the Terra Stool – a seat made out of compressed earth that could be manufactured anywhere in the world from widely available resources. The beauty of the stool is that when its no longer wanted, it can be broken down and returned to the soil just as easily as it was put together. I entered the studio at a stage when the group was experimenting with ways to bring the prototype to mass production. With the help of computer modeling and a local carpenter, I designed and built a mechanical press that sped-up the manufacturing process. I also worked on the design for a machine that would form the earth into molds using a pottery wheel, and researched various techniques for making sustainable sealants that could be used to waterproof the stools.

During my time at the studio, I also worked on the early stages of a project that was intended to help average city-dwellers compost their kitchen waste. I extensively researched the key factors that affected how well a pile of organic matter would decompose, and used this knowledge to inform the initial designs of an outdoor composting machine. I also considered the average person’s comfort level with decomposing matter and suggested design choices that would allow people to process their compost without having to be in direct contact with it.

This experience has given me the opportunity to broaden my education while applying it in many different ways. It has been thrilling being able to engage with both the hard sciences and conceptual design on a single project. I hope to eventually work in sustainable design, ideally in this kind of an interdisciplinary role.