November 15, 2016
Powerful Solutions at RIT's IdeaLab
The students, mentors, and coaches that participated in RIT's 2016 Fall IdeaLab.
Twice a year the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) holds an intensive problem-solving workshop known as IdeaLab. Students, alumni, professors, and community experts volunteer their time for the weekend to brainstorm and present solutions to unique problems assigned by community organizations. As part of RIT's dedication to effective access to technology, IdeaLabs typically focuses on healthcare and the medical industry.
This year the Fall IdeaLab partnered with Al Sigl Community of Agencies. The local non-profit presented eight unique problems for the students to consider. The students and coaches then split into eight teams to spend the rest of the weekend working on one of those eight problems.
Team 7 members from left to right: Brad Dunn (design mentor), Mark Brown (student), Crystal Mendoza Paulin (engineering mentor), Gerald Garavuso (team coach), Jiameng Huang (student), Gopika Nair (student), Peggy Fortune (Al Sigl mentor).
Brad and Crystal lent their design and engineering expertise to the room at large but spent the majority of their time with Team 7. The team was tasked with creating a physical stabilizing system for individuals who use communication devices. This problem was pitched by Al Sigl's member agency, Rochester Hearing and Speech Center. Several neurological disorders that impair speech also impair fine motor movement so the team needed to build a system that could stabilize a user's hand and fingers to produce easy and reliable typing.
Of course, one weekend is not enough time to completely solve these complex problems. However, the hard work and creativity of the teams often produce viable results. Some teams even continue working on the projects after the weekend is over and turn in completed products to the organizations that need them.
IdeaLab is always interesting and inspiring. RIT was the first to institute a program of this size and magnitude and now the "IdeaLab method" is being propagated throughout other colleges and universities in the United States. IdeaLab is free and open to the public. There's nothing quite like watching the best and brightest work together to create solutions for people with special needs and abilities and it's all for the betterment of society!
Congratulations to everyone who participated!
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