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DAILY 05.24.12

DAILY 05.24.12

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The Stanford Daily, May 24, 2012.
The Stanford Daily, May 24, 2012.

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By JULIA ENTHOVEN
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Recently elected ASSU Presi-dent Robbie Zimbroff ’12 said thathe believes the 2012-2013 ASSU rep-resentatives should adopt an ap-proach that is more cooperative andless politicized than that of previousrepresentatives when interactingwith University administrators.“Honesty and openness is a goodpolicy,” Zimbroff said. “I don’t thinkthat hiding your cards, or trying to beoverly political, is a function of stu-dent government.”“I think student government issomething different than politics,”Zimbroff added. “You’ve got to un-derstand [that] there are ways tomake solutions mutually beneficialor mutually productive rather thandistributive.”This contention was challenged,however, by former ASSU Execu-tive Michael Cruz ’12, who said thatwhile student representatives gener-ally preserve a cooperative relation-ship with the University, sometimessenators and members of the Gradu-ate Student Council should adopt amore adversarial approach.“It’s actually, in many times, morebeneficial to utilize the frame of anadversarial role as opposed to a co-operative one . . . because of theconstrained nature of working as aSenator or as a member of the[GSC],” Cruz said. “Most of yourchange that can be implemented isthrough the legislature, and legisla-tion, especially when presenting anopinion, is naturally adversarial.”Shahryar Abbasi, external affairsvice president of the Associated Stu-dents of the University of California(ASUC), endorsed the adversarialprocess of debate and said that atBerkeley, partially due to its cultureof activism, students have extensiveinfluence on almost every adminis-trative decision.“On no decision do we agree 100percent,” Abbasi said of the ASUC’sresponse to University policies. “Wecritically think through everything,and if there is too much agreement,there is probably something wrong.”ASUC functions as an independ-ent 501(c)(3) corporation, receivingno funding from the University, andlobbies policy makers on both inter-nal and external affairs, according toAbbasi and the ASUC’s current andpast advocacy agendas.Moreover, students serve on ad-
By ALEXIS GARDUNO
STAFF WRITER
Researchers at the Schoolof Medicine have invented alight-powered retinal implant— or bionic eye — that maysomeday restore sight tothose blinded through certaindegenerative eye diseases.According to a recentstudy in the journal NaturePhotonics, the treatment,which stimulates visual neu-rons with high resolution,could restore sight for peoplesuffering from retinal pig-mentosa and age-relatedmacular degeneration, withonly minimal surgery.The implant combines in-frared video-projection gog-gles with a small photovoltaicchip implanted inside theretina to replicate normaleyesight. Images from aminiature camera mountedon the goggles are processedand projected onto the gog-gles’ screen, before laser puls-es of near-infrared light beamthe images to the chip’s pho-toreceptors.Researchers had to over-come the obstacle of deter-mining how to deliver a lot of light without causing pain forthe user.“If we used visible light, itwould be painfully bright,”said Daniel Palanker, profes-sor of ophthalmology and thestudy’s senior author. “Near-infrared light isn’t visible tothe naked eye, though it is vis-ible to the diodes that are im-planted as part of this pros-thetic system.”The research team initiallytested the photodiode arrayson rat retinas in vitro, allow-ing the team to demonstratethat the photodiodes couldconvert visual images to elec-trical signals in a situationsimilar to that induced by de-generative eye diseases.Those signals would in turnbe transmitted to the brainvia retinal neurons.“The photoreceptor cellsare dead and gone; all that isleft are the (light-insensitive)signal processing neurons,”wrote James Loudin Ph.D. ’11P.D. ’11, the study’s co-firstauthor, in an email to TheDaily. “Without somethingthat electrically stimulatesthem (which is our photodi-ode array), they will simplynot see any light of ANY fre-quency.”Loudin emphasized thenumber of technological ob-stacles to developing the elec-
Index 
Features/3 Opinions/4 Sports/6 Classifieds/7
Recycle Me
SPORTS/6
 A LEGEND LEAVES
Men’s swimming coach Kenneyhangs it up after 33 seasons
FEATURES/3
PROJECTKICKSTARTER
Tomorrow 
Partly Sunny 
6649
Today 
Mostly Sunny 
6748
 An Independent Publication
 www.stanforddaily.com
 The Stanford Daily T
THURSDAY Volume 241
May 24, 2012Issue 67
STUDENT GOVERNMENT
ASSU leaders discuss student influence
RESEARCH
Researchers developbionic eye implant
Gul emphasizes responsibilites and burdens of leadership
By NATASHA WEASER
DESK EDITOR
“Effective leaders must love to learn,change and expand,” said Abdullah Gul, presi-dent of Turkey, to a packed Cemex AuditoriumWednesday afternoon. “If you are not learning,maturing, changing or expanding, then youcannot expect the people to believe in you andfollow you.”Gul’s speech — titled “Leading Change byReform, Commitment and Innovation: Reflec-tions on Leadership by the President of Turkey” — was part of the Graduate School of Business’s (GSB) “View from the Top” lectureseries, a student-run program that bringsprominent figures to campus to share their in-sights on effective leadership.Prior to being elected president in 2007, Gulserved as Turkey’s foreign minister from 2003to 2007 and prime minister from 2002 to 2003.He is a member of the Justice and Develop-ment Party in Turkey, a center-right party cur-rently holding a strong majority of seats withinTurkey’s parliament.“The next decade is likely one where Turkeyplays an increasingly important role bridgingeconomic, geopolitical, cultural boundaries,”said GSB Dean Garth Saloner as he intro-duced Gul.Gul focused his talk on leadership traits andskills, which he applied to examples from his
Turkish President talksleadership, innovation
SPEAKERS & EVENTS
Ingrassia linkscars, US histor
RESEARCH
Stanford team exploreshypersonic flight theory 
By FELIX BOYEAUX 
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The possibility of hyperson-ic flight — offering endless po-tential in air and space travelbut also posing numerous engi-neering challenges — recentlybecame the domain of Stanfordengineers. The Stanford Predic-tive Science Academic AllianceProgram (PSAAP) received afive-year $20 million grant fromthe U.S. Department of Energy(DOE) to investigate the sub- ject virtually.The DOE awarded grants tofive universities interested inresearching and developing so-lutions to overarching prob-lems as varied as the hyperve-locity impact of metallic projec-tiles and the atmospheric re-entry of space capsules. TheStanford team chose to tacklethe challenge of hypersonicflight, which could potentiallyresult in speeds of up to 15
 
IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily
 Abdullah Gul, president of Turkey, spoke Wednesday afternoon in Cemex Auditoriumon leadership traits and skills. He also addressed the ascendancy of Turkey within theMiddle East and identified social media and technology as forces for the 21st century.
OLLIE KHAKWANI/The Stanford DailyM.J MA/The Stanford Daily
Please see
GUL
, page 5
 Pulitzer Prize-winner sees automobiles as cause, effect of American experience
Please see
FLIGHT
, page 2Please see
 ASSU
, page 2
By AARON SEKHRI
STAFF WRITER
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul In-grassia spoke to a packed audience Wednes-day evening at the Stanford Automotive In-novation Facility on the subject of his newbook, “Engines of Change,” which provides“a cultural history that explores how carshave both propelled and reflected the Amer-ican experience.”The event was hosted by the Center forAutomotive Research at Stanford (CARS)and the Revs Program, and featured Ingras-sia, deputy editor in chief of Reuters News, ina casual and humorous discussion. R.B.Brenner, a visiting communication lecturerand fellow Pulitzer Prize winner, moderatedthe event.Throughout the discussion, Ingrassiamaintained that particular cars in Americanhistory have either defined or have served asapt reflections of the cultural zeitgeist. Fromthe Model-T Ford to today’s Toyota Prius, In-grassia argued that cars tell us a great dealabout ourselves and can even influence theway we live and behave.“Engines of Change” examines 15 quin-tessentially American vehicles in the contextof their time, assessing each on their influ-ence and place in history. Beginning withthe Model-T Ford, Ingrassia described howthe manufacturing practices established byHenry Ford created the notion of mass man-ufacturing and essentially “ended the ruralpeasantry.”He continued to describe how the 1920s’LaSalle, a General Motors creation, was aharbinger of the “roaring ’20s, a time of in-creasing wealth when cars meant more thanmobility — they meant social mobility.”Ingrassia reviewed both the Cadillac and
 Zimbroff advocates cooperative approach toward University
Please see
INGRASSIA 
, page 2Please see
EYE
, page 2
 
2
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Thursday, May 24, 2012
 The Stanford Daily
trical system, including “fabrica-tion processes that had neverbeen tried before, data analysistechniques for hundreds of giga-bytes of data, infrared projec-tion systems 1,000 times brighterthan had ever been tried.”Retinal implants have beensuccessfully trialed in the U.K.,with two men who were com-pletely blind subsequently ableto perceive light and someshapes.However, Stanford researchersasserted that compared to otherretinal prostheses requiring abattery connected to the im-plant, the Stanford device’s useof near-infrared light and lack of large power-consuming hard-ware makes surgically implanti-ng and then maintaining thechip more straightforward.“The surgeon needs only tocreate a small pocket beneath theretina and then slip the photo-voltaic cells inside it,” Palankersaid.Utilizing photovoltaic cells onthe retinal implant would alsoallow the insertion of multiplearrays selectively positioned tocreate a wider field of vision at ahigher resolution than compara-ble implants, according to re-searchers.As development continues,however, researchers have beguntesting the effect of implants onlive rats, analyzing electricalspikes to measure whether lightperception has changed.“We recorded the response of their retinal ganglion cells(RGCs) to our stimulation.When successfully stimulated, aRGC will cause an electrical‘spike.’ The strongest response isthus the one that produces themost spikes,” Loudin wrote.Thus far, researchers have de-termined that the implant’s visu-al signals are successfully trans-mitted to the brain in blind andnormal rats alike. However,human trials remain an ultimate,if distant, ambition.
Contact Alexis Garduno at agar-duno@stanford.edu.
EYE
Continued from front page
NEWS BRIEFS
Stanford offers greenenergy certificate
By THE DAILY NEWS STAFF
In response to an increasingemphasis on addressing risingglobal energy consumption, Stan-ford has started to offer a new pro-fessional certificate program in re-newable energy.The online program, EnergyInnovation and Emerging Tech-nologies, aims to examine emerg-ing renewable energy technolo-gies and their practical applica-tion, as well as guiding the devel-opment and marketing of newtechnologies.“Determining which technolo-gies work and can be brought tomarket mass-scale is an urgentchallenge for engineers and busi-nesses,” said Michael McGehee,associate professor of materialsscience and engineering and theprogram’s academic director, ac-cording to Enhanced OnlineNews. “This is an exciting time tobe in the energy field.”Faculty from the schools of en-gineering and earth sciences willlead course instruction. Partici-pants will attain a professional cer-tificate through the completion of four courses from a portfolio of sixor more courses, covering topicssuch as biofuels and shale gas.The program is offered by theStanford Center for ProfessionalDevelopment, Stanford’s principaloutlet for distance learning.
 — Marshall Watkins
Obama makes Bay Area fundraising trip
By THE DAILY NEWS STAFF
President Barack Obama ar-rived in the Bay Area Wednesdayfor a two-day fundraising trip, dur-ing which he will hope to raise atleast $3 million in campaign dona-tions for the upcoming presiden-tial election, according to the WallStreet Journal.The president attended afundraiser Wednesday evening at aprivate Atherton home. The$35,800-a-plate dinner was attend-ed predominantly by Silicon Valleyexecutives, as well as some promi-nent figures from other industries,such as actor Don Cheadle.The President subsequently at-tended a larger event Wednesdayevening at Redwood City’s FoxTheatre, before continuing hiscampaign schedule today in SanJose. His trip marks the first timethat Obama has visited the BayArea since September, and may —according to an invitation for yes-terday’s event — “be his last visitthere this cycle.Obama’s trip comes amidstconcerns that Silicon Valley execu-tives have lost faith in his adminis-tration and have instead donatedheavily to Republican candidateMitt Romney. Obama has raised$2.6 million from the technologyindustry this election cycle, as op-posed to $3.5 million at this pointin 2008.By contrast, Romney’s experi-ence in venture capital appears tohave won over some technologyexecutives, a fundraising inroad hewill hope to reinforce with a WestCoast fundraising trip scheduledfor next week.
 — Marshall Watkins
IAN GARCIA-DOTYThe Stanford Daily
Paul Ingrassia, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and deputy editor in chief of Reuters News, spoke Wednes-day on the role of the car in American culture and history. Ingrassia framed the automotive as a reflection ofthe prevalent zeitgeist of a period and detailed its impact in areas as diverse as politics and sociology.
the Corvette and discussed theVolkswagen Beetle at length.“I always find it funny thatHitler’s car became the hippieicon,” he remarked, referring tothe Volkswagen’s troubled history.Initially, the Beetle was sold inAmerica simply to bring hard cur-rency to German automakers’ cof-fers, but “the combination of breakthrough marketing practicesand a steady counter-culture[movement] against excess andconspicuous consumption pro-pelled the car in the Americanmarket.”Ingrassia went on to claim half in jest that the 1960 Chevy Corvair“changed the outcome of the 2000presidential election.” Ingrassiaargued that Ralph Nader’s excori-ating book “Unsafe at AnySpeed,” which featured the Cor-vair heavily, contributed toNader’s popularity and siphonedoff votes from Al Gore in the nar-rowest of recent U.S. presidentialelections.Ingrassia demonstrated linksbetween American history andcar design and production, mostmemorably with a discussion of fins on cars as indicative of thegrowing influence of marketingand a carefree post-war boommentality.“The ’70s were not a gooddecade in America,” Ingrassiasaid. “We had oil shocks, a humili-ating loss in Vietnam, Watergate,stagflation. Enter Honda, who, 30years to this year, opened its firstfactory in Ohio, marking a water-shed moment in American auto-motive industry, and brought glob-alization over here.”Ingrassia subsequently focusedon companies’ efforts to tap intodifferent generations of drivers, ar-guing that certain vehicles arrivedat seminal moments that ensuredtheir success and place in automo-tive industry.“Chrysler, with its minivans,was able to tap into the baby-boomers when they had grown up,cleaned up, taken a shower, gottenserious, gotten jobs, gotten mar-ried and had children,” Ingrassiaclaimed.The BMW by contrast definedthe notion of luxury for a genera-tion “of yuppies whose whole un-derstanding of luxury had shiftedfrom ornamental and ostentatiousto comfort,” a sentiment to whichthe German manufacturer, ac-cording to Ingrassia, obviously ap-pealed.“Personal journeys and auto-motive journeys intertwine,” hesaid. “Think about it. We wentfrom hippie to yuppie and fromBeetle to Beamer. That tells yousomething about us.He went on to discuss the influ-ence of the pickup truck as politi-cal statement and the Toyota Priusas an environmental one, repeat-edly pressing the point that carsare salient representations of cul-ture.Speaking to The Daily after theevent, Ingrassia framed the sub- ject as not “a uniquely Americanstory.”“There is something distinctabout cars here, the wide openroads . . . but this can be seen allaround the world,” he said, recall-ing observing a similar passionand thrill for cars in India on a re-cent trip.With regards to the future of cars, Ingrassia said he sees “au-tonomous cars as disruptive, inthe long term.” He retains the be-lief, however, that “cars can bepractical or they can be for the joy of driving them, which meansthat different functions willchange the way we approach fu-ture cars.”And what does he drive? “Ared BMW,” he said with a smile.
Contact Aaron Sekhri at asekhri@ stanford.edu.
INGRASSIA 
Continued from front page
visory committees to every majoradministrative or policy-makingbody, and Abbasi said that theUniversity chancellor very rarelydisregards the students’ advisoryopinions.“The way the culture is [atBerkley] is that you never sayno,” he said. “The University willtry to take this power-wheedlingstance sometimes, and we justdon’t accept it. It’s very much apush-back relationship.”“It’s an amazing association,and never before have I seen thismuch regard for student opin-ion,” Abbasid added. “The stu-dents are so involved in the deci-sion-making. When I’ve spokento my colleagues at other institu-tions, I would say it is unparal-leled.”The ASSU, with a mission to“advocate[s] on behalf of Stan-ford students on issues such ascost of living, diversity, studentlife and student activities space,”garners authority through its con-stitution, a contractual agreementbetween the University, theBoard of Trustees, and the stu-dent body (the Associated Stu-dents of Stanford University, of which all students are members).Additionally, it distributes annu-ally between $2 and $3 million of independent funding from its en-dowment and student fees to stu-dent activities, according to Cruz.The ASSU also theoreticallyhas jurisdiction over the Office of Judicial Affairs (OJA), whichoversees all judicial procedure oncampus. It is ostensibly requiredthat the Undergraduate Senateand the Graduate Student Coun-cil (GSC), in addition to the Pres-ident of the University, approveany amendment made to the Ju-dicial Charter before it can gointo effect.However, the ASSU constitu-tion explicitly states that “nothingin this Charter limits or contra-venes the authority of the Presi-dent . . . to promulgate and en-force regulations governing stu-dent conduct,” and that, “in ex-traordinary circumstances,” he orshe may alter judicial procedurewithout input or consent from theSenate or GSC.While Zimbroff expressedconfidence that the administra-tion and the student body gener-ally want the same things, Cruzsaid that student advisors oftendisagree with University officials,particularly in areas such as in-vestment responsibility, whereTrustees oversee the investmentand management of endowmentsecurities.Cruz said that he believes thatthe influence of student voice isvested predominately in the stu-dent appointments made by theNominations Committee to over40 University committees everyyear, similar to the structure of student input at Berkeley. Cruzsaid, however, that because of theNomination Commission’s grad-ual loss of prestige and its discon-nect from the ASSU representa-tive bodies, the student body’svoice has been weakened.“The role of sitting as a mem-ber of the Nominations Commis-sion is not one that is particularlylauded on this campus, and there-by the accessibility metrics be-tween the elected bodies of theassociation and thereby thestudents — and the NominationsCommission tends to bestrained,” he explained. “Linkingit more directly to students andmore directly to elected studentrepresentatives greatly improvesthe ability of students to feel likethey’re having a say in the gover-nance of the University.”Cruz said that he feels theseproblems would have been allevi-ated by the establishment of thecentralized Nominations Com-mission outlined in a revised con-stitution proposed at the end of winter quarter by the GoverningDocuments Commission (GDC),which was chaired by Cruz andASSU Parliamentarian AlexKindel ’14 and chartered last yearby the 13th Undergraduate Sen-ate.Due to strong opposition fromGraduate Student Council mem-bers and ASSU alumni, however,the drafted ASSU constitutionwas not placed on the spring bal-lot in time for the student body toapprove its passage, despite sup-port from most current ASSUrepresentatives.“The University’s relationshipwith students and student repre-sentation would greatly im-prove,” Cruz said of the aimedconsequences of a new constitu-tion. “As it stands . . . each of theNominations Commissions thatI’ve had the privilege to overseehas faced significant hurtles infilling all of the nominated posi-tions . . . There would have beenmandated greater oversight overthese nominees, thereby ensuringthat student input is more direct-ly linked toward what nomineesare saying or voting on.”
Contact Julia Enthoven at  jjejje@stanford.edu.
 ASSU
Continued from front page
times the speed of sound.“We considered many appli-cations for our predictive scienceprogram before submitting ourfinal proposal,” said Parviz MoinM.S. ’75 ’78 Ph.D. ’78, professorof mechanical engineering andPSAAP faculty director. “We fi-nally settled with hypersonicflight as we thought it would be aproject we would have fun withand enjoy working on, and it wasa technological grand challenge.”The project also allows formultidisciplinary cooperationbetween the Computer Science,Aeronautic and Astronautic En-gineering, Mechanical Engineer-ing and Mathematics depart-ments, as well as Stanford’s Insti-tute for Computational andMathematical Engineering.An overarching problem likethis one is the best catalyst topromote interdisciplinary re-search,” Moin said. “Thanks tothe combined work of these de-partments, we have alreadypushed and developed new nu-merical techniques, physicalmodels and computational plat-forms that are paving the way forpredictive science.”Stanford is at the cutting edgeof research in the discipline, ac-cording to Moin, having even pi-oneered a new science known asuncertainty quantification.“Uncertainty quantificationallows us to assess uncertaintiesin our numerical solutions,”Moin explained. “We can backup our predictions with dataabout the error bounds.Thismight be the most importanttopic in the future of computa-tional science.Moin also highlighted the im-pact of the DOE grant on theprogram’s operations.“We have essentially beenable to create a new mini nation-al laboratory,” Moin said. “Wehave a large cadre of postdoctor-al fellows and graduate studentswho interact in a way that hasnever been seen before. It hasbeen a paradigm shift in the waywe do research.”The “large cadre” of faculty,postdoctoral fellows and gradu-ate students is necessary to tacklethe challenges of hypersonicflight, according to Moin.“Nobody has been able to sus-tain hypersonic flight propulsionfor a longer amount of time,”Moin said. “Most tests havefailed, and the few who succeededlasted for only a few seconds.”The problem, Moin said, is thatat hypersonic speed air flows intothe combustion chamber of ascramjet engine at speeds up toMach 15. The time in which thecombustion has to occur is infini-tesimally short, and masteringsuch a reaction is the main chal-lenge of the project.“The equations are all well-known, but they are very hard tosolve,” Moin said.The team’s extensive collabo-ration with the Computer ScienceDepartment, and the use of someof the world’s fastest supercom-puters to model hypersonic flight,is a direct consequence of theequations’ complexity.“We are heading towards exas-cale computations, with morethan one quintillion flops [float-ing-point operations per second]and one million cores running si-multaneously,” Moin said, ex-plaining that the coding and han-dling of such supercomputers hasrequired extensive Computer Sci-ence involvement.The breakthroughs the Stan-ford PSAAP team has alreadymade and anticipates making inresearching hypersonic flight arelikely to impact many other fields.“We now know how to simu-late very complex flow dynam-ics,” Moin said. “This very tech-nology can also be applied to au-tomobiles, wind turbines, new en-ergy conversion technologies andin environmental science.”
Contact Felix Boyeaux at fboyeaux@stanford.edu.
FLIGHT
Continued from front page
I think studentgovernment issomethingdifferent thanpolitics.
— ROBBIE ZIMBROFF,
 ASSU president
 
By AARON SEKHRI
STAFF WRITER
W
hen Thomas Pauly ’12 andRebecca Hecht ’12 neededfunding for their seniorproject, a theatrical pro-duction titled “The OnesLeft Behind,” they took an unconventionalapproach to raising the funds. After receiv-ing a generous but insufficient Angel Grant— a $3,000 grant provided by Undergradu-ate Advising and Research (UAR) to assiststudents in producing public creative worksthe pair created a project on Kickstarter,a popular “crowd-funding” platform thatallows individuals to seek funding for cre-ative projects.Although the company was founded in2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler andCharles Adler, the Kickstarter concepthad been in Chen’s mind since 2002, whenhe backed out of hosting a concert at theNew Orleans Jazz Fest because of the fi-nancial risk. After conversations with theothers, a philosophy emerged that theservice would target artists and entrepre-neurs who do not have traditional accessto financing or publicity.Kickstarter representatives, followingcurrent company policy, declined to com-ment for this article.The mechanics of the website are sim-ple, defined by two words: “creative” and“project.” Creativity on Kickstarter is less adescriptor and more a prerequisite. The va-riety of Kickstarter projects is vast, with en-deavors ranging from filmmaking to designto manufacturing. The finite quality of acreative project is crucial to Kickstarter’sstandards.“A project is something finite with aclear beginning and end,” reads the Kick-starter website. “Someone can be held ac-countable to the framework of a project a project was either completed or it wasn’tand there are definable expectationsthat everyone can agree to.”Each project must have a definedfundraising aim, an allotted time span andrewards for users who pledge money to theproject. Projects also must not violate Kick-starter guidelines, such as straying fromKickstarter’s defined categories. As of May2012, over $175 million has been raised onthe website. On May 18, a Palo Alto-basedproject Pebble, which is developing asmartwatch that wirelessly connects tosmartphones to alert the wearer of mes-sages and calls, closed a round of fundrais-ing that exceeded $10,000,000 in backing,despite a goal of only $100,000.The platform is designed for specific andfinite projects, and diminishes risk for bothinvestors and the producers. Unless thetotal is reached, no money changes hands. If a fundraising total is raised, the group be-hind the project does not need to commitany of its own money. This presents an idealsituation for those without traditional ac-cess to finance or investment capital particularly students.Tom Cohlmia M.S. ’13, a student in theStanford Design Program, took advantageof Kickstarter for his final assignment aspart of a Hasso Plattner Institute of Design(d.school) class, StoryViz. His unique sculp-ture designs, which make use of etchedcrystal fragments, are part of a project hehas been developing since high school. Thedesigns proved a perfect product to marketon the website and Cohlmia reached histotal in a matter of days, ultimately raising$15,000 — more than four times his goal.Cohlmia’s project marks an expansionof the types of projects Kickstarter firsthosted, projects such as music performanc-es, art pieces and independent films.“I honestly think that Kickstarter ismost compelling for things, tangiblethings,” Cohlmia said. “Kickstarter forcesyou to prove your ability to do something,and so when you have a video showingwhat you can do and you’re just asking formoney to make more of the thing, it’s muchmore compelling.”Cohlmia went on to challenge the no-tion that Kickstarter is a democratized plat-form, where everybody has an equal shot atfundraising, or that good products willachieve their fundraising totals regardlessof their marketing and presentation efforts.“Kickstarter is just a smaller scale of thereal world,” Cohlmia said. “Salesmanship,timing, the quality of your video, are all justlike if you were selling the product conven-tionally.” His advice for aspirant “Kick-starters” is to demonstrate “a combinationof technical expertise with a compellingstory behind the product.”Rahul Bhagat, head of operations atPebble, also gave his thoughts on how to es-tablish a quality campaign — salient advicecoming from the organizers of the mostsuccessful Kickstarter project to date.“One of the keys we found was to con-vey use cases through the video,” Bhagatwrote in an email to The Daily. “Sure, thetechnology is interesting but most people just want to know how the device or servicewill fit into their day to day lives.”Interestingly enough, Pebble saw Kick-starter as “a plan B . . . after having hadlimited success with the traditional venturecapital route.” The fallback route turnedout far more successful.“[The platform] gives you knowledge of how many people are interested in yourproduct, feedback from potential con-sumers and raises capital without givingaway equity,” Bhagat said.The first of Pebble’s watches will debutin September. Given the success of fundingprojects involving the development of hardware projects different from themore traditional artistic projects that Kick-starter initially intended to support Kickstarter may prove more useful to par-ties interested in funding hardware devel-opment.“It’s clear that the platform has the po-tential to support massive hardware andsoftware projects,” Bhagat said. “It is up tothe folks at Kickstarter to decide if they wantto continue to support these avenues.”
Contact Aaron Sekhri at asekhri@ stanford.edu.
 The Stanford Daily
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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