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  • Hey guys, not sure exactly where this needs to go, but I think I stumbled upon a great idea to really take OSE to the next level.  I'd like to run it past you guys to see what you think and if this is an acceptable way for OSE to do things.

    My idea is that we just go to every university's engineering department, agriculture department, etc's website and just Email the professors with something liiiiiiiiike this:


    Hello Dr. Kadiri.  Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email.  I'm sure you are a very busy man and I am most grateful!  Dr., I have no training nor knowledge of engineering of any sort, but I have stumbled across something that I think all university engineering professors should see.  I know this is probably an inappropriate way to approach you about this, but I feel that in the spirit of this idea, there is no better way than through a direct conversation with people who have the minds, resources, and power to make a change.  This idea revolves around the concept of open source hardware.  It is a bottom up approach to solving many of the developing world's problems and I would be so thankful if you would just take the time to watch this 4 minute video from Ted Talks in February, 2011.  

    What Marcin and others like him are doing is a revolution in the way we as a society function.  I would just like to ask you to please take the time to consider finding a way to get your program associated with this concept.  Not only would it be educational, but great for the world!  Again, thank you so much for taking the time!


    So, what do you guys think?  Every single university website has a list of email addresses for its professors.  I live in Jackson, MS and I just sent this email to every engineering professor at Mississippi State University.  This idea may have already been toyed with, but just in case it hasn't, I think we should give it a shot.  If we all just hit up all the universities in our local areas, why wouldn't we stumble across a few colleges that would be willing to help?  A learning atmosphere is crucial for this project to be achieved to its full extent!  Thanks for taking the time, guys!
  • 20 Comments sorted by
  • I think many or most of those professors will associate OSE with spam.  Spreading the word by email is a reasonable approach, but should be done colleague to colleague or friend to friend.  Writing to strangers seems rude to me.

    - Mark Norton

  • Yeah, it kind of felt rude to me at first, but the more I thought about it...we're open source!  If we're not networking, what are we doing?  The professors who are open minded and interested will respond, the ones who are not will not.  The way I found OSE was by sheer luck of stumbling onto it through TED talks.  I think we need a deliberate approach at getting the kind of brains we need on board.
  • Networking is fine and I agree we should spread the word to interested professors.  You have the right idea - contacting professors - but I really don't think we should broadcast it out.  Rather, use our existing next to to contact professors they know.  Spam is rarely welcome and those who are uninterested will be left with a bad impression of us.

    - Mark
  • I disagree that it is spam to email professors about this.  They might be very interested in OSE projects especially professors in charge of senior design.  The least they could do is put OSE in the syllabus under places to get project ideas.  Just keep the email short.
  • Thanks Josh...nice to know that OSE is not overly square.
  • You could try just sending out emails explaining some of the ideas of OSE without mentioning OSE specifically. Ask them to respond with a short email if interested. Then if they are interested you can tell them about the OSE sites and talk more. Be open about why you are sending the emails. It would be better to email people with some specific reason about why you think that person in particular would be interested, because no one likes feeling like they are not important enough that they should just be spammed.
  • A good strategy would be to contact the Engineers Without Borders club of the universities. This would be a good place to find a lot of enthusiasm that could spread to other faculty members or students.

    I remember when I was taking my senior project class that a couple of people visited in the beginning of the semester from companies that were looking for teams. We had one from IBM and another from the Navy. If someone had proposed one of the GVSC at that time, I would of latched onto that. A good strategy would be to find an interested students or professors and get them familiar enough with OSE to give a short talk about it in the senior project seminars at the beginning of a semester when a lot of teams haven't picked projects. Or if you could maybe find someone in OSE and get them to go if they are close.

    Mechanical, Electrical, and Chemical engineers would be good candidates. They have the advantage of some industry connections and expert advice from their advisers. My group was able to get $400 dollars worth of free parts for our project because of a connection my professor had. Another group got a $1000. The Navy group got a lot more than that, but with strings attached.

    Another advantage of focusing on senior projects is that they are required to at least present what they were able to accomplish. More detail, even for familiar, always results in a better grade, which should advance the project. It could also be able to coordinate a lot of groups working on smaller pieces of one of the GVSC at different universities.

    A lot of us were concerned was that the school or the sponsor would get
    the patient rights to any of the good projects. That may be an issue at some schools.

  • I like your idea, Omni.  I'll write a less intrusive email.  No doubt, the first one was horrific.
  • @fitzsnaggle  Do all universities have this sort of club?
  • I think it is wise to get into contact with student heads of organizations rather than professors.  Students have more free time and a younger generation is probably more open to random emails.
  • @DanielKey. Most tech universities and most universities with a engineering program have an Engineers without Borders group.
  • OP is spam If you are going to be contacting someone start over with a new message personalized for each recipient be concise and clear of the reason you are contacting them.
    Remember  SPAM:Sending the same message indiscriminately to (large numbers of recipients) on the Internet.
  • @Jiff64138  I couldn't help but notice you used the word "indiscriminately" and "large numbers of recipients".  Neither of these is true.  I'm aiming the same message at normally a group of about 6 professors at a university.  I do not have a program that i am using to bot-send these out in mass quantity, and I'm even changing the doctor's name in each email.  I don't think this qualifies as spam.
  • I really can't believe we're worried about being associated with spam.  Please, someone answer this: Who remembers the content of the last spam letter they got recently?  Don't we just delete it and move on if we perceive it as spam?  Who honestly goes "Those damn spammers, I'm going to write this company's name down in my black book and make sure that if I ever come across them again, I'll tell them what I really think."  I seriously think we should lighten up.  The benefit of getting the word out to the heads of every engineering department in the country far outweighs if someone thinks they're getting spammed.
  • @danielkey That last of my message was just the definition of spam. Whether or not it is spam you will lower the likeliness to get a response by a factor of ten if the message seems canned. I have sent many personalized messages to other groups about the project so far and have had a near 100 percent response rate. ~ I have gmail I don't get spam; deleted automatically.
  • Response rates are significantly higher with a personal touch, so approaching a connection you know rather than 'cold-emailing' profs and such. EWB is a great organization, although they have moved away from discrete technical solutions for development in recent years. Many schools do have a strong EWB presence (particularly in Canada), and that is definitely a good place to start reaching out. I plan on seeing what I can set up and get moving in September here in Waterloo, the EWB-ers here are vocal do-gooders and strong academics.
  • Ive never heard of engineers without borders.  But there are IEEE clubs at all the colleges I know of.  Not sure if there is a club like that for mech-Es.  There are also usually robotics clubs.
  • @robotjosh

    >  Not sure if there is a club like that for mech-Es.

    Many campuses have student chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

    - Mark
  • Prior to recently stumbling on this site, I thought I was alone in thinking widespread open source. I found this site when I was looking for an open source secondary battery. Being searchable on the net will help people like me find the message. We can all spend time on other forums (I do anyway) and post relevant links to this site that answer questions that people have of related problems. Forums are so popular that the message is sure to spread. Also, making this "cool" and appeal to youth is very important. Once the open source reverse trike is finalized, building them on a large scale could really boost the cool factor (especially if they are well built and clearly marked Open Source). I think it would also be a good idea for groups of people here to focus on specific projects and go through a site like to raise funds and raise awareness. 
  • @myguitarface
    A kickstarter campaign is being planned.

    - Mark

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