Build Day 2015, Anyone?

When I came back to Olin after leading the Build Day team last spring, I was asked many times whether or not the event would happen again in some form this year. It came from First Years, eager to contribute to this community-building event that drew them to Olin. It came from staff members, fondly remembering the time spent with students exploring exciting activities. It came from faculty members, off-handedly recalling the passion and energy that makes working at Olin so engaging. In reply, I’ve always said: It could definitely happen… if you want it to. If a small group of dedicated Architects lay down the groundwork, the community will fill in the rest. And this year’s event would be easier to run than either of the past events by far!

Here’s why: when Build Day was first conceived in the fall of 2012, the Architect team had their work cut out for them. They had no clue what they were getting into. They were coordinating high-stakes projects while orchestrating a campus-wide event on a scale that hadn’t been seen at Olin in a long while. And they needed to convince the entire Olin community, from bottom to top, to get on board. It was quite a challenge. But the team rose to it, and Olin embraced Build Day 2013 as being a definitive part of our culture. The community wouldn’t need convincing again!

Of course, they didn’t work all of the details perfectly. They left that task to the subsequent year’s Architect team. Build Day 2014 took a once-tested process, a lot of feedback, and a set of extremely high expectations for success, and made a formalized version of the previous year’s experiment. All while, again, taking on major projects and choreographing a major event. It was a big job. But this formula worked, and Build Day 2014 succeeded in establishing a process by which future events could be run.

So, the two ground-breaking Build Day Architect teams left us with two helpful legacies: a receptive community and a simple, replicable process. Teams would be able to put on a welcome, relatively easy iteration of Build Day for years to come. But alas, those teams left one other legacy on their way out: the impression that being an Architect means struggle, exhaustion, and stress. After making Build Day as easy as possible to run for this year’s team, these two groups of Architects made it seem like it would, instead, be prohibitively difficult!

Well, take heart, Oliners. Getting things like this off the ground takes two years of hard work. Do it once, then do it better, and only then will it finally become easier. As a member and then leader of past year’s Architect teams, I promise that so much of the work has already been done, and so many lessons have been learned, that Build Day could definitely still happen this year… if you really want it to.

Be sure to check out: for projects and photos from 2014, and think about it!