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    Beyond the flag: A failure story


    02-19-2018 | by Sultan Çetin-Öztürk, Master Student TU/e 

    I am an architect. I was involved in a number of international large-scale projects in different parts of the world. After having spent 5 years in the construction industry, I decided to make a difference.

    The first step was to educate myself about sustainable and responsible architecture. How could we design sustainable buildings? I had very little knowledge. A couple of months of searching led me to topics like "building energy performance", "energy efficiency", "passive design", etc. Eventually, I found myself at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), pursuing a master’s program on building performance and simulation.

    Since last year, I have been experiencing the innovative atmosphere of the campus and learning the techniques of exciting concepts such as net-zero energy, smart buildings, sustainable innovation, etc. Being surrounded by an intelligent community made me braver to share my ideas that might create a positive impact on society.

    I came across the TU/e Contest, an internal competition in which TU Eindhoven students compete with each other with their best ideas for a startup. I participated in this competition with "GoPublic! project" without a team just to prove to myself that I can pitch an idea in front of a crowd and develop a concept outside of my comfort zone. GoPublic! was inspired by the IoT applications in public space. Why not use sensors and create a platform to help people make smart decisions? With this platform, people would get real-time information from public spaces (libraries, cafes, co-working spaces,...) such as occupancy rates, sound levels, indoor temperature, etc. I developed this concept and succeeded in reaching the finals! Unfortunately, I wasn't the winner of the contest.

    Despite the lack of a win, I took the project a step further and formed a team of six. We worked on the business plan, marketing, and the technology to realize this concept. Having spent a couple of months, I learnt that it is not an easy job to bring a product to the market, especially one that is not in my comfort zone. As an architect, it was very challenging and scary to work on internet protocols, sensors, IT and all things related. Also, I had to start my graduation project, as did the rest of the team. Therefore, we decided to stop. It was a failure...

    As a part of their promotion campaign, the TU/e Contest team decided to use my face on the flags at the campus, announcing the next edition of the competition. When I saw myself on these flags two weeks ago, I asked myself: Was it really a failure? I think it wasn't. I have learnt a lot!

    First of all, as a woman, being on stage and representing my gender was a success. Secondly, being brave with the things I believe in, even though I thought I failed, was a success. Finally, acting outside of my comfort zone and accepting my initial failure was a success.

    Failure was a success for me this time.