From access to healthcare for low income residents to rapid exchange of info for isolated rural communities, MESA undergraduate students identified and attempted to solve problems with a combination of tech know how and empathy.

These were the winning submissions of the 2021 MESA Idea Accelerator, a course that empowers participants to develop solutions to societal problems using a human-centered design process. During the course, students are guided through three phases of the human-centered design process: inspiration, ideation, and implementation to produce a marketable prototype pitch presentation.

Through this course MESA students are inspired to be visionary entrepreneurs. Student teams present their ideas to an instructor, industry judges and corporate partners.

First place winning team conceived a neural sensor communication system for use during wildfires

Students learn to work in teams, communicate with would-be clients and flex their entrepreneurial muscles in a way typical university courses don’t offer.

“Engineers not only need to know how to solve problems, but also identify problems and look at the problem through the perspectives of people who experience them,” a student said of the experience. “I benefited from learning how to conduct in-person interviews and how to use a STEM/engineering eye to help communities.”