Have you heard about the University of Victoria students tackling issues in their community through computer science & engineering? INSPIRE: STEM for Social Impact's inaugural Apprentice Garage (AG) team program saw six teams of undergraduates building solutions for local community partners.
Over the course of four months, the teams underwent numerous workshops with industry partners to learn vital technical and soft skills, worked with their community partners to build a minimum viable product, and presented their achievements at INSPIRE's inaugural conference.
INSPIRE provides paid experiential learning opportunities to marginalized students in STEM fields, preparing them to join the workforce with confidence upon graduation. This fall, INSPIRE became a finalist for the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Diversity Award.
At WeaveSphere, the INSPIRE team will be sharing the outcomes of these incredible projects, host a panel to discuss experiential learning and creative solutions, and deliver an industry talk detailing how INSPIRE engages with its students and methods to emulate the program's approaches to EDI in engineering and computer science.
INSPIRE's inaugural cohort took on a range of projects:
The VBIS team partnered with the Victoria Brain Injury Society, whose website was not accessible to many of its clients living with acquired brain injuries (ABIs). To make sure these clients could access information about a myriad of supports available to them, the VBIS team designed the JEFF app. The app is ABI-accessible, intuitive, and user-centric. It has a minimalistic design that reduces sensory overload, making it comfortable for ABI clients to use.
ClimAct adapted a prize-winning concept created by four high schoolers into an app that is being introduced to Victoria schools this fall. It encourages students to take action to fight climate change with activities that are achievable and empowering. This project also catalyzed a partnership between Inspire and Westmont Montessori school, which hosts the Westmont Prize competition; moving forward, top ideas in the contest will be pitched to the Inspire program so that more visions of our local youth can become reality.
The Herluma team partnered with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and found that shelters around Victoria lacked a coordinated support system, which leads to extra work for shelter workers and extra barriers to housing people in need, especially Women+ fleeing domestic violence. The team created Herluma, allowing shelters to track and share their numbers, while also managing waitlists, and is now testing their prototype in shelters across British Columbia.
The Swan Lake team partnered with the local nonprofit Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. The sanctuary saw increased foot traffic during the pandemic, leading to a greater need for monitoring visitors and their habits in order to properly allocate resources. This AG team's prototype is a platform that uses a network of devices to privately monitor the number of people in the sanctuary, without storing personal data.
The NatuR&D team partnered with the Resilient Urban Systems & Habitat (RUSH) initiative. The initiative seeks to foster ecological healing through community engagement. They asked their Garage Apprentice team to create an interactive landing page that reports information about regional climate change vulnerabilities: NatuR&D.
The Carbon Impact of Web Browsing (CIWB) team partnered with industry partner Redbrick to create awareness around the environmental impacts of the tech industry. To achieve this, they created a website that will accurately calculate the carbon impact of any given website. By showing users the carbon impact of their web browsing, the team hopes they will be encouraged to find alternatives to reduce CO2 emissions from browsing the internet and be mindful of their web browsing habits.
Find the INSPIRE team at WeaveSphere or follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to see what's coming up next!
Ali Hosny Hamdy