Design Ignites Change hosts the annual Student Innovation Awards, and my students have four projects entered.
Design Ignites Change supports creative professionals, as well as high school and college students, who use design thinking – the combination of unleashed creativity and executable actions – to improve the lives of individuals and communities.
They will be granting two awards of $1,000 and four awards of $500 for projects with the potential to ignite positive social change. The deadline was February 28th, and the winners will be announced later this month.
Your Place, Your Space: Know Your Rights is a concept for a web service that will help students find quality off-campus housing. My students identified several issues with the current housing situation. Many landlords take advantage of the fact that a lot of students don’t know the West Virginia Landlord Code. They envisioned a website that would not only serve as an educational resource, but would provide tools for ranking landlords. Not just for students, landlords who follow the code would benefit from good ratings and publicity on the site.
WVU recently implemented a tobacco-free campus policy. Unfortunately, the rules are vague and poorly communicated. To make matters worse, the university campus is integrated with the city in such a way as to make it difficult to tell what is or isn’t considered to be campus property. My students designed iSmoke, a straightforward mobile app that immediately indicates whether or not the user is within campus bounds. It also provides shaded maps of the campus, information about the policy, and resources for people who want to quit smoking.
Parking Pal addresses a third issue facing WVU students. Parking around campus is scarce, and towing companies aggressively go after illegally parked vehicles. Students don’t understand laws, so towers take advantage of them. The iPhone app communicates with a GPS device placed in the car and alerts the owner if the car starts moving while they aren’t in it. The app also provides maps to assist in finding parking and information on towing laws.
All three of these projects were the result of the class I taught last semester. We did a unit on social change towards the end of the semester. The fourth project, College Compare Fair, is from the thesis work of one of my graduate students who is trying to combat poverty in the state.