Earthquake-shattered Haiti is a world apart from grassy college campuses in Florida, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Yet for a growing number of U.S. engineering undergraduates, the country serves as a living classroom where they can apply their knowledge and skills to help real people – half a million of whom still live under tarps or tents – recover from the worst natural disaster in modern times.
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship in universities and colleges in order to create experiential learning opportunities for students and successful, socially beneficial businesses. With a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages more than 5,000 student and faculty innovators and entrepreneurs each year, helping them to bring their concepts to commercialization.
A trio of Stanford graduate students — two mechanical engineers and an MBA candidate — have set up Maykah, a company that creates toys designed to inspire girls to become “artists, engineers, architects, and visionaries.” Alice Brooks, Bettina Chen, and Jennifer Kessler hope it will help bring more women into the tech workforce, where currently females number just 25 percent. The students raised nearly $86,000 on Kickstarter to bring their first toy to market. Roominate, a miniature DIY house that is “stackable, attachable and customizable,” also includes working circuits.