A magic day in Pittsburgh: MAYA Design & CMU

I had a secret. Back as an undergraduate at CMU, I’d see authors visit and lecture in the Adamson wing, this cool auditorium style room in Baker Hall. When bored, I’d imagine what I’d have to do in my future to earn an invite and speak to students in that same lecture hall.

Last week I got my chance. The magic day started with an invite from Paul Gould at MAYA design to stop by their swanky South side office for a tour, and a fun brownbag lunch. They have these awesome meeting rooms called Kivas, which are round, have floor to ceiling whiteboards, and invites the kind of communication and interaction that makes for great design sessions. I met some great folks and got warmed up for my afternoon talk at CMU.

Here’s me in MAYA’s Kiva:


And at the Adamson wing lecture hall at CMU:


The kicker was I got to see David Hounshell, the professor of the amazing history of engineering class I took as an undergraduate, that planted the seeds that led to writing the Myths of Innovation.

And to finish off the day, dinner with friends Faisal, Aleecia, and Eden Fisher, the latter being the prime mover in bringing me out to CMU this year (Thanks Eden for a most special experience).

Thanks to Paul for the photos of a magic day.

6 Responses to “A magic day in Pittsburgh: MAYA Design & CMU”

  1. Eric

    Where I got my MBA this kind of classroom was known variously as the “arena” and, more commonly, “the pit.” And, according to the classic rules of warfare, students had the advantage of terrain and numbers. Not to mention surprise. So, guess who stood in “the pit”? Hope the outcome was better then what happened to an occasional professor ill-prepared professor! (I’m sure it was.)

  2. Scott

    Oh boy – when the lingo in the classroom is in military terms (terrain & numbers) it’s time to head for the hills :)

    Teaching in the round has its problems I’m sure, but this was more like pizza in the round. As a brainstorming / discussion space, it was great. I want one. Basically any room with floor to ceiling whiteboards gets me psyched up. Don’t know why, but there it is. Amazon.com’s seattle office had whiteboards in the elevators, and I loved that too.

  3. Vik

    Scott, it was fantastic having you in class with us last week! Thanks a lot for coming over.

    – Vik

  4. Eric

    Yes, the military had its day in the business world, since that was the experience for most key managers after WWII. And it certainly crept into the classroom as–at the time–the business system that created the most wealth. I even spent time in an industry where the annual awards for competitiveness were golden samurai swords! (Hail Trout and Reis.) Then we had the 128/MIT/big government contract days, and that seemed like a panacea. Next, we had to search for excellence and MBWA (thanks to the HP Way) and stick to the knitting and have loose-tight priciples. Then we had to do kaizen and Deming and the whole Toyota thing. Then we had to search for cheese and reward people (sincerely) in 60 seconds and flip the organizational chart on its head and EMPOWER. When we weren’t jamming things back at our suppliers with just-in-time inventory management. Now we are well into the Silicon Valley/networking/velocity of info/white board/build a business in your pjs stuff(thanks to Google and Annalee Saxenian and others). We are flavor of the decade people, we Americans, and this is our current Rocky Road. The only question is: Will I live long enough to see us start “taking the hill” again and making sure our offense is 3X our defense? (Hail Trout and Reis :)

    Oh, somewhere in there we did folk music, too, but that was before my time and it, like so many of our other strongly-held ideas, died a fitting death.

  5. Sam

    Hey Scott, sorry I missed ya… I was in Pittsburgh Mon-Wed but flew back to NJ Wednesday night. I also still work for GD|Viz (formerly MAYA Viz) so would have gotten to attend your Kiva talk.



Leave a Reply to Scott

* Required

Click here to cancel reply.