Remarkable Week

This week was a little bit unusual. I took nearly a full week of paid time off from my job to focus on the Red Bull Discovery Lab, yet this is the first time I’ve had in a week to put together a post. How can that be?

To break it down, I’ll have to start at the beginning.

Monday we kicked off our Red Bull Mind Gamers session, getting to know each other and learning more about the MIT Game Lab. I’m a little sad I wasn’t able to inspect the Game Lab in person, but I appreciated the digital tour we got.

Tuesday, we launched into our Discovery Lab sessions on space travel. It was fascinating to hear about the latest and greatest innovation in long distance space flight, and the talks provided inspiration for many ideas our group came up with over the rest of the week.

Wednesday our group pivoted to start working entirely on designing a challenge for other Red Bull Mind Gamers to participate in. The Wednesday sessions were about the story elements, and our group left a lot of fun ideas on the table when we narrowed the concept down to “inexperienced trainee and astronaut mouse solving problems in space.” Wednesday was also noteworthy as one of my teammates told me about the online International Escape Room Championship scheduled for Saturday, and another one of my teammates joined up with me to enter the contest.

Going into the week, I had planned to sign on for about 30 minutes per day to address the most critical items for my day job. On Tuesday, I ended up jumping on for a full half day, and Wednesday I found myself exchanging messages at Discover at the same time as I was working on our Discovery Lab project and cutting my day at the Discovery Lab short to join a call. So for Thursday and Friday, I made an effort to only jump onto my work computer for the most critical items and commitments I had made ahead of time.

Thursday the Discovery Lab team focused on the puzzle design for our contest, and I was really happy with the final product. We pulled together a long list of potential puzzles and brought to life a few of the examples to share in our final presentation on Friday. After Discovery Lab wrapped up, I took care of a few important personal errands and then spent some time preparing for the online escape room tournament by playing a previous year’s scenario.

Friday the Discovery Lab team presented our final product to the program manager at Red Bull, and it was amazing to see how all our work came together. Friday night Christina and I shopped for a baby shower Christina is helping facilitate on Sunday.

Saturday morning we grabbed some coffee and played through the International Escape Room Championship qualifying round. While we didn’t clear the room within two hours, we still ranked #43 in solve time, and that’s enough to qualify us for the final round in November. I’m excited to participate in that, and even though we were almost an hour behind the top time, I feel good about our chances to contend in November in the finals.

We had company over Saturday afternoon, which makes 12:10 AM Sunday morning the first time I’m really having a moment to breathe and share a little about my week.

I feel I’m doing a great disservice to the people I spent the week with by running through just the high level items; I’m not done telling the story. There are a few different stories to tell here, and many of them are related to the brilliant people I’ve interacted with this week, and many of the friendships I look forward to maintaining in the future.

The next few days aren’t going to be any simpler. I need to catch up at work and onboard two new members of my team while recruiting for two other roles, while preparing for a trip to Cancun on Friday. I may not be able to tell any detailed stories about my new acquaintances, Red Bull Discovery Lab, or the International Escape Room Championship until I’m sitting on a balcony in a Mexican resort, but having too many stories to tell is a nice problem to have!

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