Around the Studio: Tech Talks

by Emily Twaddell

Welcome to the Invo Department of Training and Development.

Most medium-to-large companies have staff who are responsible for employee learning. Some live in Human Resources and offer training on things like business writing and leadership skills. Others sit in a training organization that develops product and process training. Such groups usually follow a highly structured process of content drafting, reviews, and even testing, all using branded templates and sanctioned development tools before releasing a final deliverable.

In a start-up, or a very small shop like Invo, though, is learning just left to the individual? On-the-job training is invaluable, but what if someone is heading in the wrong direction, or they have a huge gap in knowledge? What about exposure to new technologies and innovation? When your most senior staff can still wear most of their college wardrobe, who provides management training and leadership development?

Enter the Invo Tech Talk.

Invo studio citizenship requires a degree of risk-taking, not only in taking on projects that stretch our knowledge and skills or signing up to cook lunch for everyone. The Invo Tech Talk has become a regular feature of studio life over the years and even interns may be called on to stand up and talk about a project, present on a book they have read, a process they are learning, or explain a technical topic that interests them. We also invite others to come in and give a talk (sometimes in exchange for lunch.) Everyone learns something, everyone supports the speaker, and we give (and get) feedback on presentation styles and skills. Producing a ten-minute presentation is a tremendous opportunity for growth in all directions—personal, professional, creativ-al, and technical. We learn about new technologies, of course, but also about research practices, product design, prototyping, project management, and more. Like our mentoring practice, the tech talk has become a strong point of our culture of learning.

Here’s a look at a few of the talks we’ve given or hosted in the past year.


Jon Follett, an accomplished musician and DJ, demonstrated the basics of remixing music. He re-imagines how a song should sound, working with the original components of a piece—the vocals, bass, guitar and drums—and decides what parts he wants to keep, such as the vocals. Jon also talked about some of the musical inspiration that led him to create new accompaniment for the vocals. He played each of the new tracks and then the final mix.


UAV Tech Talk with Daniel Drucker from Arlington. Dan showed us his drone, took us outside for a demo, and later sent us the video of our town.


Intern Final Critiques: RISD student Jie Gao almost naps during her last presentation + critique at the studio while Anna Kung keeps on with her research story.


Dancer, scientist, and student Lina Colucci gave a talk on designing next-generation ballet pointe shoes... and left us wanting more on her newest hydration sensor work at MIT.


Amy Loomis, a mechanical engineering grad student at MIT, talked about energy, recycling, and reuse, concentrating on cell phones across Planet Earth.


Noah Baker shared what he learned about UI design during his Invo internship.


Intern Quentin Stipp explained the digital and physical challenges of designing a large-scale printed ceiling mural.


Designer Sarah Kaiser, our resident 3-D printing and costume design expert, talked about the molding processes she uses.


Topics: culture of learning, Business of Design