Justin Blumencranz Helps Take MV’s Virtual Reality Lab to the Next Level

May 1, 2019 | Come to Play, courage over comfort, Design Thinking, Humanities, IMAMUSTANG, Impact, Innovation, Inquiry, Maker, Maverick, Multiplier, News, PBL/IBL, Upper School News

Story by Justin Blumencranz

The catalyst for reaching out to Woojer about their haptic vest was a need in our VR lab and my desire to work on a project of my design. As a Freshman, I worked with Mrs. Graham and a few other students to create Mount Vernon’s Virtual Reality Lab. The VR elective course was then designed to allow students to utilize the lab to develop unique and impactful projects. I got the chance to be apart of the first VR elective at Mount Vernon, but this year, the classes I chose didn’t allow me to stay in the course. Although my schedule kept me from taking the VR elective this year, I wanted to find a way to stay involved in the work I had done since ninth grade. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you achieve a goal that you set for yourself, and that made this project a lot of fun.

A few weeks before Winter Break, I started by looking up the CEO of Woojer on Linkedin. At the time, I was too young to make a Linkedin account, so I asked Mrs. Graham to reach out to him with a brief note asking to talk. He responded rather quickly, and we gave him my email so I could continue the conversation.

My first email was simple. I gave my name, who I was, what I was interested in, and then I asked if he was willing to Skype with me at a later date. They were in Israel, which is seven hours ahead of us. This obstacle caused some challenges, but we eventually agreed on a date.

I remember being surprised at how quickly Woojer was willing and eager to speak to us. I believe companies have a passion for what they do, and when you take an interest in their passion, they’re happy to talk. As the date of the video call got closer, Mrs. Graham and I prepared what we wanted to say and what information to bring to the conversation. We would be prepared to clearly explain our goals and what we hoped for in a partnership with the company.

To no surprise, I was nervous leading up to the video call. However, when we connected to the call, and I heard the CEO say, “Hi Justin!” my fear was replaced by excitement for what we were accomplishing. I talked with the CEO as well as a few others about our ideas, and the call ended with a promising request for patience as they had to first satisfy their pre-orders. We would touch base in the spring.

A few short months later, I reached out asking for an update from the company. I hoped that they would respond and we could pick back up where we left off in January. However, less than a day later, they sent me back an email saying they would be happy to send us a vest.

I found Mrs. Graham and told her the news; we were beyond excited. The incredible part about this project is that all I had to do was ask. Woojer wasn’t given an incentive to support me, but they believe I would put their product to good use and presented us with a gift. It doesn’t take large sums of money or influence to do something like this. It’s just good people and good ideas. I hope this project can be an example of what is possible when initiative combines with support from mentors around you. And to think it all started just by pressing send.