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PROJECT SIDEKICK - a veteran training program [8/08: Techshop is officially supporting this idea!!!]

Even the best of heroes need help from time to time. My grandpa, a WWII veteran, had a heart attack last week at the old age of 92, and some how managed to survive. What kind of badass could survive a heart attack at that old age other than a super hero?! Grandpa, you are my hero, and this project is dedicated to you and all of the projects we have ever worked on together. I'll always be your trusty sidekick.

Photo of Donji YD
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

Project sidekick is a veteran training program funded by companies looking to hire skilled workers, and supported by younger mentors with the goal of getting these veterans jobs, all taking place at various maker-spaces like TechShop.
Just like Batman needs Robin, Veterans need our support.  My idea is to build upon TechShop's promotion where they give veterans a 1 year free membership and teach them how to use 5 different high-tech machines free of charge. 

The Project Sidekick Concept

Heroes = Veterans over the age of 50
Sideckicks = Mentors ages 18 - 24 who have knowledge they can pass on about the various tools found in makerspaces. 

 
Youth volunteers(Sidekicks) will be paired with veterans (Heroes) to augment the learning process for high-tech machines.

Different company sponsors will create unique courses and projects for the Heroes to choose from known as tracks. These company sponsored  tracks will teach the local Heroes the tool-sets needed in order to get a job at that specific company. Sidekicks help their Hero for the duration of the track chosen by the Hero. 

Tracks consist of 3 saftey and basic use classes teaching the basics of high-tech tools commonly used by the company sponsor, and a project designed by the company that involves all of the machines learned in the three classes. Helping the Hero with the project is the Sidekick's main role. 

As to two work together, they will laugh, cry, commiserate over trying to overcome obstacles, and their bond will grow stronger and stronger over time, increasing the power of each by tenfold!

When the project comes to an end, the Veteran will walk away with a job, experience, and a freindship they will remember forever. 
 

Comic Strip Walkthrough of Service:




User's Perpective








 
 


The Project Sidekick Strategy
 

1. stay away from apps
2. focus energy on one user group: veterans
3. focus on one type of business: maker spaces
4. make sure veterans can walk away with a something on their resumé
5. make a playful and fun branding identity
6. idea should be appealing to all stakeholders
7. make branding memorable by using metaphores
8. have multiple sources for funding
9. match making should be as simple as possible. 
10. Most importantly, have a way to produce real results.



1. I need to stay away from making any apps or systems that rely on users being able to access, and be able to use a computer. I personally know many people over the age of 50 who do not know how to use a computer. This could hinder them being able to use this service. 

2. Focusing energy on one group makes creating a marketing campaign for reaching out to people cheaper. 

3. Focusing on maker spaces ensures that everyone will have the proper facilities to learn in. 

4. Being able to put a learned skill on a resumé is the ultimate measure of success. 

5. The branding needs to set the pace for how everyone will interact with eachother. A fun brand will make for a fun experience. 

6. This idea needs to appeal to everyone to ensure that there will always be enough funds, enough mentors, and enough resources for everything to opporate smoothly. 

7. If I was older and had this mentor constantly telling me what to do, I would think, "that youngster thinks hes so smart." But if instead of being a meantor, he was a sidekick, and I was a hero, I would see nothing wrong with taking advice from a trusted ally. 



8. Multiple sources of income brings a sense of stability to the organization. 

9. When matching a Hero with a Sidekick, there shouldn't have to have to be some complex app to make the connection. Wouldn't it be ironic if an older person wanted to find a mentor in order to learn how to use an iPad and using an iPad ended up being the barrier barring them from finding  mentor?!

10. I ran into Robert and he is supplying a 400 sq ft. space to test this idea out. This space is located right next to a techshop so it couldn't be more perfect. 

 



Stakeholders

- the Hero (veteran)
- the Sidekick (volunteer mentor)
- the company sponsor
- the maker space
- the Veterans Association
- Therapist for veteran
- Techshop SBU instructor
- the project overseer who matches the Hero with a sidekick

 



There are three phases of this project:
 

1. Setup 
2. Program
3. Post benefits








Setup:
Several different sponsor companies create Tracks. A Track is an course for the Hero to follow. The track includes 3 classes for learning the tools necessary to complete a company related project. 



Two examples I'll give are a Bag company and a Toy company. 

The Bag company will assign 3 classes:
1. Lazer Cutting SBU (safty and basic use)
2. Sewing machine SBU
3. 3D printer SBU

Knowledge of all three of these tools will be needed to complete the project. Since the company sponsor is a bag company, the project is to make a bag. The lazer cutter will be used to cut out fabric, the swing machine will be used to attach all the fabric peices together, and the 3D printer will be used to make the various zippers and clasps. 

The files will be supplied for the fabric peices if the Hero and Mentor are not up for deigning a bag from scratch. 


The Toy company will also assign 3 classes:
1. 3D printer SBU
2. Mold Casting SBU
3. Mold Injection SBU

Knowledge of all three of these tools will be needed to complete the project. Since the company sponsor is a toy company, the project is to make an armyman figure. The STL file will be given to the Hero and Sidekick so they don't have do design the army man from scratch. The 3D printer will be use to create the first object. The Mold casting SBU knowledge will be used to learn how to cast the little model that was printed. The Mold injection SBU knowledge will be used to mass produce the armyman figure that was originally printed. 

The sponsor companies will also create an information packet. This information packet will inlude all of the information on how to operate the machines, information and templates for managing a project, and tips and tricks for creating the assigned project. 

Next, the Hero picks a track. Depending on which track he takes will determine which Sidekick he is paired up with. Lets say our Hero picks the Toy company. He will be paird up with a techshop member who has taken the 3D printer SBU, Mold Casting SBU and Mold Injection SBU. TechShop as it is right now keeps updated files in there database about who took which classes. I can go to them anytime and ask which classes I've taken before. This means the first time a member at techshop volunteers to be a Sidekick, all the system has to do is check which classes they have taken and cross check them with the availible tracks. If a Techshop member took the Lazer cutting SBU, the Sewing Machine SBU, and the 3D printer SBU, they would be paird up with a Hero who decides to take the bag companies' track. 



Once the pair is matched up, it is time for their first meetup. The next phase is the Program and this is where they will first meet up. 





Program:

The first meetup will be on a Super Hero Saturday. This service only happens on the designated day, Super Hero Saturday, in order to keep things simple. 

On the first day, the Hero and Sidekick will meet at the Maker-space to take the first SBU class thats on their track. If the Hero has troubles with transportations, the Sidekick will save the day and pick up the Hero at the bus stop, or the Hero's house. Helping out with Transportation is part of the Sidekick's responsibility. 

They will meet up for these classes for 3 saturdays. When they have finished the SBU classes for their track, they start the project portion of this mentorship. 

The Sidekick will look through the information packet and see what needs to be done in order to complete the project. 


During the course of the project, not only will the Hero be learning from the Sidekick, but the Sidekick will also have learned alot from the Hero. Veterans are very wise and have lots of experience in many areas. 


Post Benefits:
There is a huge post benefit that is not listed on this diagram below and it is for the companies. When companies send veterans through this training,  they will often hire the veterans. They will have an opportunity to brag about hiring these veterans who went throught the training program on their sponsored track. It will be great for PR. The companies could also get new ideas from the projects created. The bag company could get new inspiration based on the bag created by the Hero and Sidekick. The company will also be able to post the creation on their blog saying, "look at what this Hero and Sidekick created!"  

Just imagine how many likes a post like that would get on facebook! I would totally share a post like that on my wall becuase it is inpirational to see companies helping out veterans!

The biggest benefit is for the Hero( the veteran). She will get to say she worked with a big comany to create a product. This will look excellent on a resumé. My favorite bag company is Chrome industries, and even as a Sidekick, it would be great if I could say I created a bag while working with Chrome. 

Also, since the Veteran has now been trained with the tools the company uses, there would be a high chance that they could get a job with the company. Pairing up companies with veterans also helps the veterans with networking. Now the Veteran has contact with a company, and has the skillset to get along well with the company. 

The Sidekick gets to take free classes if there wasn't someone who could be paird with the Hero who already had taken the classes. This is a huge insentive because each class is valued at 60 dollars. The Sidekick would also get  a discounted membership for the time while they are helping the Hero. Also saying that you participated in a one month mentoring program helping out veterans would sound great in any interview. 




 



Funding

Funding would be done by the sponsor companies. These companies would fund this because it is a great way to hire talented workers and train them with the right skill set. They also would get the added PR benefits. 


 



How this Idea will Scale:   [ UPDATE : 8/04 ]


Project Sidekick will start off small and focused. Once other companies start to see how many veterans are getting hired out of this program, they will want to join in as well. Not only will they want to help out the veterans, they will want  the good PR that comes with it. This will lead to more tracks to choose from. For every new track that opens up, there will be a wider selection of different tools to learn from. Once there is more funding, more days will start to open up besides Superhero Saturdays.

An additional wing of this program will open accomidating veterans who cannot use the machines becuase of injuries or  who are suffering from PTSD. For these Heroes we will open up a special program geared more towards art and music that will be accessable to the handicapped and will be theriputic for people suffering from various brain injuries. 

Once all of the days start to fill up from the success rate, maker spaces will open up just for mentoring veterans. This idea will know longer have to work off of existing maker spaces like tech-shop to work. 

As these special makerspaces just for Veterans gain success, these maker spaces will open their doors to a wider variety of people over 50 besides just veterans. The first people other than veterans who will be a part of the program will be other heros like retired firemen, policemen, and EMTs.

This service will end up being a self-sustanible learning hub that hooks up local Heroes up with jobs at cool companies. Companies can use this as a resource to hire people here in the US instead of outsourcing jobs.

The final phase of Project Sidekick will have world-wide reach.  This idea will change in that it will move to directly helping out Heroes, to indirectly helping Heroes by helping communities re-create this system all over the world.  Project Sidekick's new goal will be to help out Heroes in third world countries develop by pairing them up with Sidekicks.

First, Project Sidekick will work with local governments to raise the capital to build these industry building maker-spaces. Many different fundraisers will be needed to create the capital needed. In some cases where the local governments have more money, this fundraising phase will not be needed. 

Next, now that the funds have been raised, Project Sidekick will need help from other organizations and that is where "twisting what exists" will come into play again. Project Sidekick will team up with Architecture for Humanity.  "Architecture for Humanity is a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and brings professional design services to communities in need." (Google's decription)  Project Sidekick will take advantage of Architecture for Humanity's world-wide network of designers and builders to help build these maker-spaces. 

After the Maker Space has been built, Project Sidekick will network with local businesses to develop tracks for the local Heroes. These company sponsored tracks will teach the local Heroes the tools they need to get a job at that specific company. 

This process will be repeated over and over again, spreading the joy of making things together all over the world. 


 


 



Background of idea

I am a member at TechShop and have taken several classes to learn tools such as 3D printers, CNC machines, vynil cutters an screen printing. Sometimes I wish I had someone to work on projects with, especially someone who is skilled in using those tools. I was thinking about this the other day, when I realized that there is probably someone else out there who would really appreciate it if I helped them with illustrator and photoshop. 

And thats when I started thinking about my dad (65 years old) and how terrible he is at learning technology.  Even if he took the class at techshop about illustrator, he would walk away from the class barley remembering anything. 

Lets face it, the older generations didn't grow up with technology and trying to learn illustrator for people like my dad can be as foriegn as learning a different language. On the other end of the spectrum, you have people like my 8 year old cousin who have been tapping away at iphones since the age of 4. 

It would make me so happy if there was a way I could get paird up with someone who I could help out and could learn from at the same time. I want the experience of growing together with someone. While the older generations have wisdom and experience to offer, the youth have technical ablilites to offer. Maybe my illustrator skills could really make someone over the age of 50 happy. 


 


 
Collaborators Outside of Open IDEO:

Christine Chong - Made the awesome anime storyboard

Lauren & Miles from TechShop  -  Interview + gave me company sponsor idea

David Wong - Helped me make the diagram.

Lindsey Boran - Had an awesome brainstorming sesh

Rober Slack - Providing 400 sq ft of space so I can test out this idea
 


Dedication

My grandpa, a WWII veteran, had a heart attack last week at the old age of 92, and some how managed to survive.  What kind of badass could survive a heart attack at that old age other than a super hero?!
 
Grandpa, you are my hero, and this project is dedicated to you and all of the projects we have ever worked on together.  I'll always be your trusty sidekick.  
 

Who are the target users of your idea and how does your idea speak directly to their needs, life stages and goals?

The target users for this idea are younger members at TechShop (ages 18 - 24) and Veterans (ages 50+).


In the first idea phase of this project, I realized that many people's ideas were suffering from project scope issues. (now realizing I probably should have left them a comment telling them so) The scope issues were cause by having too broad of a target user.


What ended up happening is the ideas were so focus on how to match up younger people with older people, that they weren't covering the quality of the actual mentoring that should be happening. .


By limiting the selection of people to veterans, you can prepare a user experience that is custom tailored to that specific group of people verses giving everyone a one size fits all treatment.


This custom tailored user experience for veterans covers situations such as:
What happens if a veteran named Allison comes in for mentoring and she is missing a limb? By focusing on problems that are specific to one user group, Allison will have the appropriate accommodations prepared ahead of time. Other problems that could arise are PTSD complications.

Robert Slack has a very similar idea to mine and he said he is working with Recreational Therapists to asses the needs of Veterans that he will be mentoring and working with. Some of these therapists specialize in Polytrauma and Spinal Cord Injury.


By just focusing on TechShop members, (or other maker space members) for mentor candidates, companies do not have to worry about providing the appropriate facilities and organizing meet up locations. There is already a set location, TechShop. There also won't be any doubt if whether or not they will have anything to teach people over the age of 50. If they are members, then they have taken classes to learn the tools already and this can be taken advantage of when paring mentors with veterans.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

How this Idea will Scale: [ UPDATE : 8/04 ]

Project Sidekick will start off small and focused. Once other companies start to see how many veterans are getting hired out of this program, they will want to join in as well. Not only will they want to help out the veterans, they will want the good PR that comes with it. This will lead to more tracks to choose from. For every new track that opens up, there will be a wider selection of different tools to learn from. Once there is more funding, more days will start to open up besides Superhero Saturdays.

An additional wing of this program will open accomidating veterans who cannot use the machines becuase of injuries or who are suffering from PTSD. For these Heroes we will open up a special program geared more towards art and music that will be accessable to the handicapped and will be theriputic for people suffering from various brain injuries.

Once all of the days start to fill up from the success rate, maker spaces will open up just for mentoring veterans. This idea will know longer have to work off of existing maker spaces like tech-shop to work.

As these special makerspaces just for Veterans gain success, these maker spaces will open their doors to a wider variety of people over 50 besides just veterans. The first people other than veterans who will be a part of the program will be other heros like retired firemen, policemen, and EMTs.

This service will end up being a self-sustanible learning hub that hooks up local Heroes up with jobs at cool companies. Companies can use this as a resource to hire people here in the US instead of outsourcing jobs.

The final phase of Project Sidekick will have world-wide reach. This idea will change in that it will move to directly helping out Heroes, to indirectly helping Heroes by helping communities re-create this system all over the world. Project Sidekick's new goal will be to help out Heroes in third world countries develop by pairing them up with Sidekicks.

First, Project Sidekick will work with local governments to raise the capital to build these industry building maker-spaces. Many different fundraisers will be needed to create the capital needed. In some cases where the local governments have more money, this fundraising phase will not be needed.

Next, now that the funds have been raised, Project Sidekick will need help from other organizations and that is where "twisting what exists" will come into play again. Project Sidekick will team up with Architecture for Humanity. "Architecture for Humanity is a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and brings professional design services to communities in need." (Google's decription) Project Sidekick will take advantage of Architecture for Humanity's world-wide network of designers and builders to help build these maker-spaces.

After the Maker Space has been built, Project Sidekick will network with local businesses to develop tracks for the local Heroes. These company sponsored tracks will teach the local Heroes the tools they need to get a job at that specific company.

This process will be repeated over and over again, spreading the joy of making things together all over the world.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

As seen in one of the videos, I currently have 400 square feet to test run this idea and the best part is its in the same building as techshop. This idea is happening!!!
Robert Slack, a fellow Open IDEO collaborator, sent me this video:
https://vimeo.com/102302791 . He serendipitously came up with an idea so similar to mine that I swear I could have sleepwalked over to his place and had a meeting with out even knowing it. He just rented out a room in the same building as TechShop where he will be mentoring Veterans that are already a part of techshop. We have decided to start collaborating on this test run and will be doing the test run regardless of whether this idea becomes a winning idea or not.

Evaluation results

18 evaluations so far

1. How well does this idea inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship?

Really well – this idea clearly activates young people to support older adults - 77.8%

It’s getting there but could use a bit more work to flesh out exactly how - 22.2%

This idea doesn’t really address how to inspire and engage young people as mentors to older adults - 0%

2. How clearly does this idea outline a path to scale so that it can spread from one local community to around the world?

Crystal clear – I understand all the milestones that this idea would need to hit in order to spread beyond one local geography - 38.9%

It’s pretty clear that this idea has the potential to scale but the steps needed to grow aren’t detailed enough - 55.6%

Not very clear – I’m not sure this idea is designed to scale given how it’s explained here - 5.6%

3. How well does this idea define who its target users are and the ways that it can meet their needs and life stages?

Very well – I understand exactly who this idea is meant to engage and how it will support them - 100%

Ok – I’m not sure I could tell you exactly who the target user is but I might be able to guess - 0%

It’s hard to tell who this idea is actually meant to engage and support - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

It rocked my world - 55.6%

I liked it but preferred others - 33.3%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 11.1%

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Team (9)

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Ricardo Gomes

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"Hello professor, wanna join my team?"

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Paul Reader

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"Hey Paul, I really need help presenting my information, and you are really good at that."

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Robert Slack

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"Hey Robert! Join my team! Lets collaborate!"

Bettina's profile
Bettina Fliegel

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"I really liked your advice and would love to have you on my team!"

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Ashley Jablow

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"Thanks for the comment! Join my team! I look forward to your feedback on my idea :)"

Guy's profile
Guy Viner

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"I would love to get more feedback from you! Look forward to working with you."

Leigh's profile
Leigh Cullen

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"Hello Leigh! Thank you so much for commenting. Please comment more because I really like your feedback. And you were right, checking out Paul's idea definitely helped me."

Mike's profile
Mike Hatrick

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"Thanks for your support, and keep the good ideas flowing!"

65 comments

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Photo of Rong Jun
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Congratulations, Donji, Great job. i hope i can hear more about this project as it launches.

Photo of Donji
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Thanks! I'm actually trying to update the impact phase, except I cannot find the add impact button.

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