Catalyst loves a little healthy competition.

So when we heard that Make48 was coming to town, we were more than a little excited!  What’s Make48, you say?  You can read up on the full details, but in a nutshell, it’s a 48-hour challenge where teams compete by designing, creating and presenting the prototype of a new product.  That’s a tall order in such a short time, but there’s more.  Teams are kept in the dark about what they are making right up until the competition starts.  Since it’s 2021, there is a full camera crew to capture every move they make for an upcoming TV show on PBS.  Talk about pressure!

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Catalyst designs and manufactures new products every day,

so we decided against entering a full-blown Catalyst team.  But innovation is in our blood, we couldn’t let everyone else have ALL the fun!  There was only one clear option … Catalyst employees volunteered to help all the teams crush their design!

The teams were challenged to design a groundbreaking product around the theme: “Health at Home”.  We can’t reveal specifics until the Make48 Indy episode airs, but there were two different projects each team could choose from.

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For the next two days, Catalyst employees worked at Machyne to help the competitors realize their goals.  Catalyst VP of Product Development, Andrew Mendenhall made it a family affair by bringing his daughter, Brieanna to help.  All hands on deck!  Andrew lent his knowledge of industrial design, 3D printing and prototype assembly.  Brieanna advised teams on their sales sheets and quickly became the point person for a wide variety of tasks.

Because of his experience with 3D printing and prototyping, Andrew was often stretched pretty thin between teams.  Brieanna was often hopping between projects as requests came her way.  She became quite popular for her attention to details!  He and Brieanna may have put in more hours than some of the competitors.  If you ask them, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not just another day.

Our Managing Executive, Jason Andrews is usually busy heading up high-level decisions at Catalyst.  However, he rolled up his sleeves and got back to his roots by designing several concepts in CAD and polishing metal components.  Talk about commitment to the team- he even showed up on his 50th birthday!  Happy Five-O, Jason!

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Clare, our Co-Op from the University of Cincinnati made best friends with everyone she met while providing expert CAD and design support. 

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Make48 is such a tough competition that teams will accept any help they can get.  They even let the Catalyst marketing guy coach up a few teams on their sales pitch and presentation video!  One team had only 12 minutes left on the clock when they began to edit their one-minute presentation video.  Somehow, it was finished with three minutes to spare! 

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Bleary eyed and mentally drained, the teams kept chugging along.  Some even worked through the entire second night!  In true TV drama fashion, the finishing touches were still being cranked out right as the timer expired. 

The pressure of designing and building was over, but next came the judges!  With paint still dripping and a few screws missing, teams lined up to present their creation to the world.  Sales pitches were made, tough questions were asked, and a few laughs were had by all.  In the end, the winners were selected to move on to the national competition, but there really were no losers.  We all learned something from our experience and even made a few new friends.

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Though there were some long hours and stressful moments, we loved every minute.  When Make48 comes back to Indy, you can bet Catalyst will be there again. 

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So how did it all end?  Well, we can’t tell you yet.  You’ll have to stay tuned for updates.

Catalyst Product Development Group