Back in October, we kicked off a partnership project with our local STEM program, the STEM School of Chattanooga, to solve a persistent problem. We love our new office, but the echoing sound is an issue. While our enterprising CodeScientists tried a few solutions, alas, the problem continues. So, we were glad to have the opportunity  to tap into the bright, creative minds of the STEM students for a possible answer.

The Process

Immediately after the initial office visit and project kickoff, I received follow up emails from both teams to visit the office again.

Team Andromeda

On their second visit, Team Andromeda walked around the office paying attention to the available wall space and the open floor space. At the end of their visit, we chatted about their progress so far:

  • They sourced foam squares at just $0.36 per 50cm square piece.
  • They considered hanging curtains around the open space that could be opened and closed, rather than implementing portable walls.
  • They looked into dynamic microphones ranging from $20 – $100. They are planning to get one for testing, and would like to return when it arrives.

A couple weeks later, Team Andromeda visited again with standalone microphone in hand. We tested video calls in various places in the office. We discovered that the mic is really great for picking up your voice. You can even whisper and the mic is loud and clear on the other side. However, it still picks up a little of the background noise. We added noise gate software, which helped, but some background noise was still heard. Next up, noise-cancelling microphones …

Team Shelton

This team struggled with conflicting schedules so their next visit was a single team member who had missed the Kickoff and wanted to tour our office to see and experience our sound issues first-hand. They were researching noise gate software. Not long after their visit, I received an email with instructions on how to install the software.

Both teams worked diligently to find viable solutions, and engaged with us to gather our input. Just as any consultant would do. Impressive!

Final Presentation Day

When Team Shelton and Team Andromeda arrived on the day of final presentations, they were a little nervous, as should be expected!  They are high school students presenting to an audience of professionals that included 15 Minions, 2 Directors, and 1 CEO!

No pressure.

Drum roll please…

The teams were fantastic. Each team prepared a slide presentation and team members took turns presenting.

Team Shelton presented in a very scientific way. Their slides contained sketch diagrams, and also had a link to the audio that was recorded during their testing. This group included some feasible solutions and a really out of the box (but very fun) solution:

  • Hanging a curtain to separate the kitchen area from the working space.
  • Using small foam pieces behind our microphones during calls.
  • Create a ball pit of foam – a crowd favorite!

Team Andromeda incorporated a project management style focus. They created an overall project plan, which broke down to daily agendas and goals. They found this to be very helpful to keep their team moving forward. We love this too as we have found our project leaders to be invaluable members of any project team.

Team Andromeda solutions included:

  • Hanging fabric curtains around the office that could be opened and closed when needed.
  • Specific headsets with microphones at a very reasonable price.
  • Custom noise gate software that is compatible with our current conference call software.

Thank you, STEM!

Both teams recommended a combination of solutions, rather than a single solution to our sound problems. Their solutions have so much potential that we are seriously considering options from each team to implement in upcoming months. We are thrilled to be able to collaborate with the smart students of Chattanooga. STEM FTW!