At Wentworth Institute of Technology, Haiden Goggin’s senior thesis in industrial product design is generating quite a buzz. Pun intended. As he recently told medical marijuana advocates on Reddit: “My school is paying for, evaluating, facilitating and mentoring me along this incredible journey of design (and development) in a subject I’m deeply passionate about … a premium, portable and dual-use / dual-chamber (concentrate & flower) vaporizer for medical cannabis patients.” That’s right folks–his team’s VUE device will work with oils and the leafy stuff. Naturally, we reached out to the young genius to see how this went down …
DB: Was it big risk for you to pitch a vaporizer?
HG: Going into it, it definitely felt like a pretty big risk. Wentworth is fairly notorious for being a conservative institution and we were definitely very aware and cautious of that when we pitched the idea. Putting the use of medical cannabis in practical terms and making it clear how our device would simplify that entire medicating experience for the patient was really crucial in selling it to the representatives who granted us funding, for sure. None of us were worried about the institution penalizing us in any way, since we weren’t doing or promoting anything illegal. Although, it still felt risky to be pitching such a traditionally controversial topic in the faces of people who typically are very against any promotion of cannabis use.
DB: Did you expect to get funding?
HG: We didn’t expect to get funding, or any recognition really. We hoped for it, but didn’t expect it. We knew the odds were completely against us and since no one had attempted anything close before, we had no benchmark for how to go about it. We just pushed to have the absolute best presentation and business plan at the pitch, in hopes that the judges and institution would at the very least look at the industry in a more professional light. To get them to think about it differently. When we found out we got funding, it was an incredible moment. It meant more than just a concept being able to go beyond and be realized, it was also a tangible representation that the perception of cannabis as a legitimate medicine, was changing. Honestly, if we had done the same pitch last year, I’m not sure it would have been as readily accepted … the fact that Massachusetts allows medicinal cannabis most definitely helped our cause as well.
DB: What are your hopes with the product you’re developing, VUE?
HG: Since receiving funding, our engineer as well as myself have both switched our senior theses to this concept, so we are working on it full time while being graded, advised, and funded by the institution. We are designing, prototyping, and engineering in parallel currently, pushing for a production sample by the time we graduate. My hopes are that within three to six months we will have a pre-production run of VUE, with selective beta testing following to work out any kinks. Ideally, we want to achieve national distribution within the year … Overall I want to see [ed.: their nascent company] Metaväp do more for than the industry than just VUE. We are an extremely user-centered team and we feel there is an overall lack of design thinking and empathy when it comes to these vaporizer products, which are very personal in their nature. We want to design products that are sensitive to this, that also achieve a level of premium quality and versatility, two important elements that are missing in the market currently.
DB: What has been the response from faculty and students at Wentworth?
HG: The response has been fantastic. We’ve received a ton of support from all of our professors at Wentworth, as well as the students. No one can really believe we were able to pull it off, so it’s a great feeling. Although, getting the funding was just half the battle … The Accelerate program has a great director and team, with a ton of resources for helping ideas like ours off the ground, including outside support from industry professionals. The connections we’ve made and the support we have received from that are really priceless. I don’t think we would have been able to progress so rapidly without the help from our network at WIT and the support team we’ve established because of their overall support.