Engineering and design students are invaluable creative resources. Giving students opportunities to solve practical problems is mutually beneficial-students enjoy seeing their work put into application and communities appreciate the solutions.
A new program, named something along the lines of "IDEO EDU" or "D3" for
A collaboration between companies + local organizations + students + professors, will form teams that can design, build and deploy systems for local community engineering and design projects. (Using the Human-Centered Design process, of course!)
Need to build a new playground at the local park? Restoring a historical monument? Retrofitting your house to make it more energy efficient and save utilities costs? Trying to figure out the best way to capture rainwater for community garden irrigation? These types of problems can be turned into design projects built into university curriculum (eg: d.school @Stanford or EPICS @Princeton and Purdue).
Giving students more opportunities to apply their skills to solve practical problems is mutually beneficial-- students can take pride in seeing their project come to put into application and communities can enjoy and appreciate the students' work.
Community service agencies need the help of people with strong technical backgrounds to undertake projects that utilize new technology and implement creative solutions. Undergraduate students need practical experience in their discipline to succeed. Working on real world projects will not only strengthen community ties but may also help them secure employment post-graduation.
Companies, non-profits, local government bodies, university students, professors.
Additionally, high school students could become involved too- particularly if it gives students exposure to design and engineering and facilitates mentor relationships with local university students and faculty.
**This concept can easily be combined with some of the other Top 20 ideas:
ZipSpaces: Maybe students could revamp abandoned spaces for university events-- in exchange for redesigning or retrofitting the space, the students could use it for gallery exhibits, dance performances, fundraisers etc. instead of paying separately to rent out an existing venue.
Reclaimed in Detroit: Under the advising of Steelcase, students (esp. engineering, design, architecture etc.) could have design projects to create pieces using reclaimed materials. The pieces could either be for general consumers or for use in public spaces.
Open City: The OpenCity concept is a great forum for sharing ideas and pooling resources-- maybe community students- high school and college- could each pick local projects that they could take ownership of carrying out. Maybe there could be some type of design competition, where a panel of judges from the community vote for the best executed projects?
Vibrancy in a Box: Just as outlined in the Vibrancy-in-a-Box concept, theres a great opportunity for a youth programs- maybe some sort of collaborative internship between companies+students or between college+high school levels to create vibrancy- kits.
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