Creating Impact Through Design

This past weekend, we returned to Middlebury College for our first homecoming weekend. While in Vermont, we had the opportunity to participate in an event with our favorite group on campus, the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. The Center hosted the "Young Alumni Showcase: Creating Impact Through Design." The event focused on design thinking, and pushed a group of current students, faculty, and young alumni to question how design thinking will define the way we look at problems and shape solutions. 

We presented our "big idea" to the group: that we need to bridge the gap between GIS software and public health organizations in developing countries in order to increase the use of geographic analysis and improve access to health care around the globe. 

Design thinking focuses on the intersection between business, technology, and people. We want our business to be financially sustainable, and we want our technology to be awesome, but we're most motivated by the idea that what we're doing can help demystify the process of using a GIS, and break down the knowledge barrier that prevents widespread use of the software. In this way, we're focused on human-centric design: designing a model and a product that is accessible and intuitive. 

Hearing from the other young alums was inspiring and energizing, and it was great to talk with current students about how to harness the resources at Midd and pursue independent projects and ideas. Being back at Middlebury and reconnecting with the Center for Social Entrepreneurship reminded us yet again how grateful we are to be part of such a supportive and encouraging community that pushed us to think BIG.

For more on design thinking, watch Tim Brown's TEDtalk: Tim Brown says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects -- even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory "design thinking."