• Alumni

Activity Feed

On November 20, 2016, Curtis commented on Duolingo: Working for your Education :

I appreciate the value created (and captured) through the gamification of learning foreign languages, but I’m curious about its efficacy. Academic consensus indicates that the ability to master new languages dramatically falls off in the early-teen years. However, new research has shown that there is no “speed bump” after which new languages cannot be learned, but it cautions that a more developed brain is not as sensitive to intuitively catching grammatical errors as less-developed (i.e. younger) brains [1]. I wonder if Duolingo could improve the efficacy of its product by customizing the way languages are taught on its platform based on the user’s brain development.


What is ATVI doing to position itself in the realm of eSports? Through digitization, gamers can showcase their skills to a greater degree than ever before. Key digital influencers, such as PewDiePie, are able to make a healthy living from their couches via ad revenues generated during their streams [1]. Riot Games’ League of Legends just sold out the Staples Center for the Finals of their Worlds Championship. Microtransactions seem to be a corner-stone of ATVI’s current operating model. Die-hard gamers vehemently disapprove of games in which performance can be enhanced through purchased add-ons. What are ATVI’s plans to increase its presence in eSports, while promoting fair competitive play?


On November 20, 2016, Curtis commented on A video game that transforms the job market :

Knack seems to be capitalizing on the double-blind hiring processes that many companies are attempting to adopt. In TOM, we learned that if a firm is trying to restructure the value proposition of a supply chain, it needs to take in consideration the concerns of the existing members. I would like to learn more about how Knack is tackling this issue for both educational and professional institutions. How does Knack see itself interacting with current players in education, such as the College Board? How will it address concerns of cheating, where someone takes the assessments for someone else? I would also be interested in learning more about the algorithms by which Knack determines a person’s competencies. Similar to the SATs or IQ tests, critics will claim that these assessment unfairly gauge certain competencies at the expense of others, such as interpersonal skills.

On November 20, 2016, Curtis commented on Can Searching for Apartments Online Be Luxurious? :

In recent years, virtual tours have been offered by an increasing number of event locations, apartment complexes, resorts, commercial buildings, and even schools. Consumers increasingly expect to observe and experience a location prior to committing to it. Since Bozutto has marketed itself as a high-end, luxury apartment brand, would it be possible for them to partner with a virtual reality or augmented reality firm to help promote its properties? It seems to me that the culture and ambiance of many of these buildings are unique and authentic to their local neighborhoods. Could VR/AR better help them tell their story?

On November 20, 2016, Curtis commented on Thriving Cities: GE’s Bright Idea :

I could see Thriving City technology being adapted to decrease automobile congestion in metropolitan areas. Most of the major metro areas in the US were founded over a century ago. Because the costs of overhauling existing roads, buildings, lighting systems, and other infrastructure are prohibitively high, the technology used by many public utilities is antiquated. By attaching smart-LED technologies to existing infrastructure, Current can harvest data regarding the most heavily traveled routes, peak hours of congestion, alternate routes, and locations of accidents. This data could then be used to develop a system in which traffic lights can “talk” to each other. This communication pathway can help optimize traffic light timing and redirect drivers to faster routes, thereby reducing overall commute times, and consequently, automobile exhaust.

I agree with this post’s argument that briquettes are a promising, renewable alternative to traditional carbon-intensive fuels in African countries. However, to me, the most important sentence in this post is “consumers are not willing to pay more than the price of charcoal for an environmentally-friendly fuel.” With extreme poverty across much of Africa, can we reasonably expect consumers to pay a premium for eco-friendly fuels when they barely have enough money to feed their children? If the price of briquettes could be reduced to match that of wood or charcoal, adoption would be much easier and faster. Unfortunately, research indicates a lack of information regarding the availability of raw materials for briquettes (i.e. crop residues), as well as a lack of infrastructure to consistently source those raw materials [1]. Without overcoming these challenges, I imagine it will be very difficult for consumers in African countries to adopt briquettes.


On November 7, 2016, Curtis commented on Climate Change in Tennis :

This post nicely described the impacts of climate change on tennis, but what about the impacts of tennis on climate change? Tennis balls contain a rubber core. This rubber core is made from either natural or synthetic rubber [1]. Synthetic rubber is a crude oil derivative. In addition, tennis court asphalt is made from bituminous pitch with sand or gravel. Bituminous pitch is produced as a residue in petroleum distillation [2]. Thus, the production of tennis balls and tennis court asphalt require crude oil. According to the EPA, oil & gas drilling is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions [3]. Is simply playing tennis contributing to climate change?


On November 7, 2016, Curtis commented on Climate Change and Colombian Floriculture :

The post mentions that Florverde standards promote the implementation of energy efficient processes, water conservation/storage techniques, & the minimization of fertilizers/pesticides. Taking hydroponics one step further (see comment above), would it be possible to utilize aeroponics to grow flowers in Columbia? Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in the air without the use of soil or another medium. Nutrients are transferred to the plants via an aqueous mist applied directly on the roots [1]. This process would not only eliminate the need for fertilizers, but also pesticides (since plant-to-plant contact is reduced). Water could be used more efficiently because in traditional growing, it can seep into the ground beyond the roots. Overall energy efficiency could be net neutral (or advantageous). With aeroponics, plants can be cultivated in much higher densities than with traditional growing methods but equipment to maintain the system would be greater as well. However. irrigation systems would require much less coverage, which could reduce net energy expenditures.


Mars’s efforts to only purchase certified cocoa reminds me of IKEA’s initiative to create a more sustainable supply chain for wood. In the IKEA case, there was significant debate regarding the effectiveness of increasing the usage of recycled wood. I’d like to pose a similar question for Mars: what is the company doing to make its downstream operations more sustainable? Many types of candy wrappers are made from polypropylene, an oil or gas derivative [1]. What is Mars doing to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels in its candy wrappers? Also, since candy wrappers are usually made from a mixture of synthetic compounds, recycling them to extract useful materials is difficult and energy intensive [2]. Most waste management companies choose not to recycle wrappers. What is Mars doing to promote the recycling of candy wrappers?


The Geared Turbofan engine developed by P&W seems to provide significant fuel savings compared to similar jet engines. Its innovative design allows the turbine and fan to spin at a more efficient speeds. One concern I have with this design is the dramatic increase in moving parts. Will airlines need to commit more time and resources to cleaning and maintaining these engines? Greater maintenance of these engines (i.e. lower durability) could hinder adaptation by aircraft manufacturers. Also, the Geared Turbofan engine took 20 years to develop and commercialize. Is that a reasonable timeline for advancements in the industry? Humans rarely take dramatic action without impetus. When climate change becomes a serious enough issue to elicit dramatic action, will companies like P&W be able to shorten their R&D lead times? What innovations are P&W investigating with respect to jet engines that utilize renewable fuels?