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DSI Elizabeth Abernethy, ’15, Mixes Social Design and Business in Silicon Valley

MFA Design for Social Innovation

MFA Design for
Social Innovation

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136 W 21st St,
5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

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May 13, 2015

VIEW 2016 THESIS PAGE HERE

Please come meet the next leaders in social impact design on the eve of their journey out into the world, with introductions and overview by our illustrious thesis faculty.

Watch the Presentations Here

9:30 – Introduction: Cheryl Heller, Chair
9:35 – Thesis Film
9:50 – Presentation: Archie Lee Coates IV
10:00 – Michelle Kwon
10:12 – Liora Yuklea
10:24 – Xintong Liu
10:36 – Renzo J. Perez-Acosta
10:48 – Robin Newman
11:00 – Kate Nicholson
11:12 – Presentation: Jeffrey Franklin
11:22 – Meghan Lazier
11:34 – Juno Lee
11:46 – Elizabeth Abernethy
11:58 – Rhea Rakshit and Laura Kadamus
12:10 – 12:40 BREAK
12:40 – Presentation: Tina Park
12:50 – Haya Shaath
1:02 – Gina Kim
1:14 – Jennifer Emmons
1:26 – Mafe Perez
1:38 – Anna Braga
1:50 – Akshata Malhotra
2:02 – Presentation: Despina Papadopoulos
2:12 – Meryl Natow
2:24 – Yuka Uogishi
2:36 – Cova Abril
2:48 – Rachel Dixon
3:00 – Pragya Mishra and Swar Raisinghani
3:30 – 4:30 Reception at DSI

Meghan Lazier : Alert-A-Ride


Thesis Statement: “I am helping disabled commuters regain independence and control of their day by creating a mobile app that gives riders access to real-time data and information about current and past rides on paratransit.”

Description: Uber for Access-A-Ride. The short-term goal of my project has been to develop a prototype of an app that helps disabled commuters more effectively navigate Access-A-Ride, New York City’s paratransit program. The ultimate goal of my project is to encourage the city to release data about Access-A-Ride, so that citizen technologists and designers can create apps for disabled commuters – just as they have done for other forms of New York City transit. I’m currently in the process of pitching my idea to the MTA with the support of an NYC council member.

Gina Kim : Playcraft


Thesis Statement: “Creating a game-based facilitation tool to help tweens with high functioning autism advance in social competency.”

Description: Tweens with autism have a hard time socializing with others and parents are afraid that immersing with digital games will exacerbate isolation. Playcraft is an analog facilitation tool that is used hand-in-hand with Minecraft, a common affinity amongst tweens of all abilities, in order to create dialogue around social topics and encourage collaborative decision making. It’s vision is to unveil social barriers for tweens with autism and to advocate more in-person interaction with peers outside of school.

Rachel Dixon : Come Together Birmingham


Thesis Statement: “Come Together Birmingham is dedicated to improving race relations in Birmingham, Alabama, and it explores how healing and reconciliation from segregation and Jim Crow can be achieved through open dialogue and creativity.”

Description: Come Together Birmingham seeks to create healing and reconciliation from Birmingham’s dark history with segregation and Jim Crow. In doing so, the project strives to encourage racial inclusion and the unification of diverse community members. Two interactive community workshops were held to ignite open dialogue and to prototype co-creation between diverse stakeholders. Born out of these workshops was Red Mountain Collective, a social justice art and design residency. The residency’s vision is to establish the city as a hub for diversity and creativity in the South. Red Mountain Collective will support diverse artists and designers in creating community projects engaging the public in discussions of race relations, as well as participation in creative community organizing events. A full proposal for the residency has been developed and submitted for funding with the goal of launching a pilot session in the fall of 2016.

Covadonga Abril : Camina Conmigo (Walk With Me)


Thesis Statement: “CaminaConmigo (Walk With Me) is a project that connects seniors with younger people, asking them to spend a few hours in the daily life of the other person, in order to help solve a problem that society doesn’t always perceive.”

Description: Feelings of sadness or loneliness are often stronger in older people because they often experiment with drastic changes as they age. While a lack of motivation does not have to be tied to a particular nationality, age, or social status, seniors suffer more often from it. The goal of CaminaConmigo is to show both people how the other one lives by providing a match for every participant, suggesting different activities they can do together, and providing all the logistics.

Akshata Malhotra : Wise MD


Thesis Statement: “Wise MD is a fitbit like app to help physicians with real time, automatic and physician specific data, aiming to enable cost conscious, quality care decisions.”

Description: The U.S. spends the highest GDP per capita on healthcare in the world. 1/3 of this is unnecessary. While doctors control the majority of the waste (80%), the lack of transparency in the system creates an indifferent attitude among doctors regarding costs. This excess of treatment is not only causing 2 trillion dollars of waste per year, but more importantly, it is also causing harm to patients — up to 37,000 patients die in the U.S. every year because of over treatment.

With my thesis, I have created a tool for doctors to get personalized, automatic real time feedback. There are 3 main components that they are getting feedback about: Time Efficiency, Cost Effectiveness and Quality of Care. This allows doctors to learn from their own decisions and apply that learning to future decisions, thus providing high value care to patients.

Juno Lee : Clutter Capsule

project-Clutter_Capsule
Thesis Statement:Clutter Capsule is a service that helps people realize they don’t need (or even want) everything they have.”

Description: With less than 5% of the worlds’ population, the U.S. consumes 20% of resources and is also responsible for 50% of the world’s solid waste. De-cluttering affects our inner state and environment, and living with less lets us focus more on the priorities in our lives.

Pragya Mishra and Swar RaisinghaniThe Good Guides


Thesis Statement: “We are providing the necessary guidance and support for patients who have to wait for prolonged hours to receive treatment in public hospitals in India.”

Description: Pragya Mishra and Swar Raisinghani developed a volunteer-based program to reduce the waiting time for patients in government hospitals in India over an year long project. This program is unique because it is an organized mobilization of young, motivated volunteers to improve the healthcare experience for an underserved population in India. The volunteers are trained to be mediators between the staff and the patients to communicate the right information and provide support to ensure smoother patient flow. They have launched an organized yet customizable platform of information and resources for hospital management, healthcare consultants or NGOs to be able to adopt this model for their own hospitals. From their learnings during the process of working on thesis, they have also designed a toolkit for change-makers across the world which has a library of all resources that they used in their work and a step-by-step methodology that can be followed to create positive change.

Laura Kadamus and Rhea Rakshit : Out Loan


Thesis Statement: “Out Loan is a web app that simplifies repayment strategies for borrowers saddled with federal student loans.”

Description: Out Loan redesigns the user experience for federal student loan borrowers who are navigating the repayment process in two ways:

1. Guides borrowers through a simple Q&A process to quickly determine their eligibility for income driven repayment and public service loan forgiveness.

2. Visualizes their repayment options through an interactive dashboard so that users can easily understand the short term and long term effects of different repayment strategies on their budgets.

Maria Fernanda Perez Tello : The Southside Project


Thesis Statement: “Empower immigrant Latino entrepreneurs in South Williamsburg to maintain, evolve and vitalize their business in periods of neighborhood transition.”

Description: The Southside Project empowers Latino small businesses in South Williamsburg by guiding them to address their main challenges. Under the platform: Merchants Association, they are increasing their entrepreneurial capabilities and connecting with local partners.

Michelle Minseo Kwon : What’s Not To Love?


Thesis Statement: “What’s Not To Love” is an online platform in which young people visit and share their concerns about appearance, expose themselves to new and diverse perspectives of beauty, and connect with people from all around the world.”

Description: Millions of women, some as young as 16 years old, consider getting plastic surgeries. Many people use some kind of internet platform to learn more about plastic surgeries; in South Korea, there’s an online culture where young women post selfies and solicit criticism from anonymous users, asking where they need to fix. This quickly turns into online bullying and trolling.

How can we change this? Can design guide and influence the behavior of online bullying and perception of beauty? What if there was a way that encourages women to accept who they are as is?

What’s Not To Love is an online platform that fosters humane interaction among users from all around the world. It demonstrates that virtuality and anonymity don’t hinder humane interaction, but better yet, they can further better our lives and the way we interact, and influence our perception of beauty.

Liora Yuklea : Hummbowl


Thesis Statement: “I am creating storytelling tableware to humanize Israelis and Palestinians.”

Description: What if you could scan objects in your kitchen and hear the voices of people you’ve never known? What if you could share something intimate with someone who is supposed to be your enemy, without even meeting? Hummbowls are storytelling tableware, co-designed and exchanged between people from the Middle East and inspired by common hummus rituals. In each bowl, someone’s dipping style and narrative is preserved and shared. You can use the bowl for whatever purpose – although really, the best use for it would be eating hummus.

Xintong Liu : Wombologue

thesis-Xintong-Liu
Thesis Statement: “Wombologue is an online achievement platform using illustrations to document forced abortion stories in China.”

Description: By connecting web, Wechat, Weibo and other social media channels, Wombologue forges a platform to voice up. By sharing the stories I illustrate for these women, subscribers and readers become immersed in the soul-context. Empathy and a deeper connection make them feel the responsibility to speak up for the right to personally choose the nature of one’s family.

Renzo J. Perez-Acosta : Diffuse


Thesis Statement: “Diffuse is a project based on curbing the rampant growing rate of bike theft here in NYC.”

Description: Diffuse has the potential to change the way we see bike theft by turning a personal and private problem (being a victim of bike theft) into a shared public one. The goal is to create change and cause proactive actions against bike theft, which would otherwise not happen. By exerting paint, this device creates evidence that an act of theft has occurred and helps establish a sense of accountability between the thief and the community. The paint markings can be useful in helping a potential buyer of second-hand bikes or parts to avoid buying stolen parts, and by marking parking spots where bike thefts have occurred, and ultimately raising awareness of the growing rate of bike thefts in NYC.

Robin Newman : Caravan


Thesis Statement: “Caravan is a website for homeless LGBTQ youth ages 16-24 to find, review and share information on shelters, anonymously.”

Description: While homelessness is devastating for all youth, those who identify as transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning are disproportionately affected by hate, violence and abuse. There is an estimate of 1.6 million homeless youth in America, of which 40% identify as LGBTQ in comparison to 4-10% of the general youth population. Caravan aims to reflect the realities of these youth living in shelters, by generating testimonials, tips, tricks, and information that encourages an easily navigable and transparent shelter system.

Kate Nicholson : Aftermoon


Thesis Statement: “Aftermoon is the time between 2am and 5am in hospitals when night shift nurses need an invigorating snack to get through the rest of their day; it’s a way to send them one that’s wholesome and nutritious.”

Description: In hospitals all across America, thousands of nurses face social, emotional and physical challenges on night shifts. One of them is eating nutritiously. Aftermoon is a way to send gifts of nutritious farm-to-bottle juice to nurses in the middle of the night. It’s a simple, yet holistic and powerful way to express your appreciation for nursing and support healthy and mindful choices. Beyond this, Aftermoon is grounds for new thinking about society’s role and food’s place in health systems.

Elizabeth Abernethy : Beacon


Thesis Statement: “Beacon is a carpooling mentorship program for new teachers in rural parts of the U.S., giving them the support they need to make it through the tough first few years on the job.”

Description: Teaching is hard. Half of new teachers will leave the profession by the end of their 3rd year according to a recent post from NPR. Fortunately, quality mentorship programs can make a huge difference for a new teacher, providing them with the support they need to get through even the worst days. Beacon fits mentorship into teachers’ daily commutes by facilitating carpooling pairs within schools. It is an open-source, free toolkit that anyone can download and use.

Haya Shaath : The Halal Girls


Thesis Statement: “The Halal Girls is a support network to ease the transition for Saudi women returning home after studying abroad.”

Description: In today’s globalized and highly connected world, support networks offer opportunities for more seamless transitions between countries. For Saudi women who are navigating two immensely contrasting cultural landscapes, it’s important to ensure that what was learnt – academically, socially, professionally, culturally – is sustained, cultivated and balanced with traditional values. This network is both online and offline, offering a space for women to come together to connect and share knowledge, experiences and expertise on navigating this transition and beyond.

Jennifer Emmons : Comedere


Thesis Statement: “I am creating a consumer product for low-income working Mexicans to acquire healthier and better eating habits through 5 minute breakfasts.”

Description: Mother was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only does breakfast give you energy and satisfy your appetite but it has also been proven to serve as a weight control strategy. Why 5 minutes? Low-income Mexicans wake up between 5-6am not having enough time to make breakfast, therefore having to buy unhealthy food throughout the day. By providing a fast, healthy breakfast we might be able to empower people to fight obesity and make a change.

Anna Braga : Seekit


Thesis Statement: “A toolkit that helps college students navigate through the untested waters of their depression and begin to take more control of the path they chart.”

Description: College is a time of transition for most students: they are often away from their support systems, having to balance their newfound independence with taking care of themselves, managing their school work, paying bills and so much more. When you are depressed, you feel as if all your energy has been drained and doing even simple tasks can feel overwhelming, especially as a college student who is going through so many transitions in life. I began to wonder how could I help college students be better prepared for this journey?

I am developing a way for students to explore and navigate their experiences with depression through creative expression in a toolkit form. The kit helps students better understand how they are affected by depression and enables them to prepare for their oncoming slumps by building a kit to support them in those moments.

Meryl Natow : Get Good Done


Thesis Statement: “Get Good Done encourages millennials to play well and do good.”

Description: Get Good Done gamifies the doing of social good. By providing users with one good deed to complete each day, Get Good Done helps users make a habit out of doing good. By completing deeds, users earn points and can ultimately win prizes.

Yuka Uogishi : YUBIKIRI


Thesis Statement: “YUBIKIRI is a photo contribution site aiming to generate a conversation about sustainable energy.”

Description: Japan had a devastating nuclear accident. Just four years later, no one seems to care or discuss it. How can we begin to talk about it again? The design solution is YUBIKIRI. YUBIKIRI, which means pinky promise in Japanese, presents information about seventeen simple actions including exchanging an incandescent bulb with a LED one to contribute to shifting toward sustainable energy. The contributors pick the action that they want to commit to, and upload a picture of their finger art through Instagram or Twitter with #yubikirime or by mail.

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136 W 21st St,
5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

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