think[box] technology helps dental student create the perfect proposal

When fourth-year dental student Kyle Krause started considering ways to pop the question to his girlfriend of five years, he wanted to make the moment more than memorable—he wanted a proposal so original it was absolutely unprecedented.

His first step? Rummaging through a pile of sticks.

Krause and his girlfriend, Alex Graves, have a 1-year-old black Labrador retriever whose fascination with fallen tree limbs has been a constant source of amusement on their hikes and trips to the dog park.

“If we walk by one laying in the grass, she will dart for it. If she finds a really good one, she will prance around with it and show it off as if it were a trophy,” Krause said of the playful pup, Maci. “It always makes us laugh and we kind of make it a game to find a good one so that she is content.”

So Krause came up with a plan to play off Maci’s love of fetch, plus add a bit of personalization.

As he drove down Euclid Heights Boulevard after a day of dental patients and classes, Krause spotted a pile of discarded sticks and logs.

“So I did what any normal person would do,” he recounted. “I stopped my car and took some.”

He took the pile of wood to think[box], Case Western Reserve’s high-tech center for collaborative innovation. He’d heard from a fellow dental student that the lab is open to all members of the community to create innovative projects and, after taking a tour of the lab, he decided to put the technology to work.

With the help of attentive teaching assistants, he imported an image he’d created, which included an elegant border, a small heart and the words, “Alex, Will You Marry Me?” He then sent the image to the Epilog laser engraver and put a log into the machine.

When his project came out of the machine, it was the first of its kind in the lab—in more ways than one.

“Users of think[box] have built test specimens for MRI machines, autonomous airplanes that put out fires, bio-feedback sensors for amputee patients,” said Ian Charnas, operations manager, “but this is the very first marriage proposal we know of that factored think[box] in to the equation.”

Plus, as Krause remembered: “They told me I have claim to fame for being the first one to laser engrave a log. I wasn’t surprised.”

So with his new project in hand, Krause was ready to put his plan into action.

He had settled on the sequence: Krause and Graves would take Maci for a walk, on the hunt to find the perfect stick for Maci. Krause would then uncover this “perfect stick” and present it to Graves for—hopefully—her approval.

But on the day Krause was set to make the move, Graves was tied up in work for her real-estate marketing company, Your Biz Tank.

“Because I was so excited about proposing—and didn’t want to make it obvious that she absolutely must be in attendance to go to the dog park, which would have been weird—I decided to take Macie to the park myself and bring it back to her,” Krause said. “I ended up saying something along the lines of, ‘Look at this stick Maci found—isn’t it perfect?’”

Graves, deep into her work, glanced up briefly, at first indifferent to the “perfect stick” Krause had found for their pup. So Krause asked her to hold it, and then, when Graves remained slightly confused as to the importance of this seemingly regular log, he asked her to turn it over.

“That is when I read the words ‘Will You Marry Me?’” Graves remembered. “I stared in disbelief—and when I looked up he was already on one knee.”

The couple is set to marry in their hometown of Columbus next June.

For more information about think[box], visit