A quick update on what PInT (Olin’s Public Interest Technology* team) is up to. <3
Accessible Communication Button
This subteam of 8 has been working on a mechanical-electrical prototype for an improved Big Mack button. The Big Mack button is a communication device used by students at the Crotched Mountain School to control devices (such as a blender) and associate that action with a message. We have also been thinking deeply about our next steps and how we can potentially create greater potential for impact.
Community Rideshare Program
This subteam of 6 has co-designed and prototyped a functional platform to assist nonprofits with coordinating transportation for people with accessibility needs. In order to make this program easy for non-software engineers to use and maintain, we have coerced Google Sheets and AwesomeTable into bending to our will, via custom scripts and black magic. Up next: conducting user testing, and killing our darlings!
Human Trafficking Prevention**
This subteam of 5 wrapped up a project by turning it down, then writing an in-depth letter and delivering a presentation on why. We wanted to share how we weighed our values and made a difficult decision that could have had a significant impact on vulnerable groups of people.
What if you could spend one summer doing whatever you wanted to work on, to make the world better? The PInT 2020 Summer Fellowship will give three Oliners a chance to focus entirely on public interest organizations they care about, without worrying about money. The faculty selection committee is currently choosing fellows, whose entire summer will be funded (including project resources, travel and housing). They could partner with nonprofits, community-based organizations, advocacy campaigns, government offices, public institutions, foundations, environmental organizations, or any other form of public interest organization.
PInT is redesigning the third floor endcap of the AC on the Lot A side to serve as a public interest technology hub on campus (not exclusive to PInT!). The space is called the PARC, which is an acronym for Participatory Action Research Collaborative, a term invented at Olin that is better than ‘Welcome to the PIT’. Currently the space is home to (free!) tea***, a kettle, modular walls to mount things on, and tons of sharpies, post-its, and expo markers. Coming soon is a board for scheduling events happening in the PARC.
Three of our members will be flying to Austin, TX to present about PInT at the Public Interest Technology Undergraduate Informatics Education Conference. Education is the honey to our PITea, so we will be sharing why we believe student-driven learning is important for public interest work, and what unique conditions at Olin helped PInT emerge as a possibility.
*For reference, PIT = Public Interest Technology as a concept, and PInT = us, because that’s way cuter than pit :)
**Shameless plug: the videos of these presentations can be found on our facebook page!
***Yes, you heard that right. Sometimes we do deserve nice things. Just clean up after yourselves, return our mugs, and don’t be heathens.