Ready, Set, Make! Creating Cornell DTI’s First Makeathon

Making an impact in our community beyond technology.

Alice Pham
Mar 9, 2019 · 7 min read

👊 Making an impact

Cornell Design & Tech Initiative is a student-run project team at Cornell University that is dedicated to creating technology to address problems we find in our community. We are made up of developers, designers, product managers, and business analysts who come together to tackle problems we find in our community, from projects like CU Reviews and Cornell Orientation apps to initiatives like technical workshops with Google and other collaborative events.

🧠 What is the design process?

For all of our team projects, design is an essential part of how we make products that solve real problems. The design process focuses on the human aspect of human-computer interaction, especially using compassion and empathy to understand your target audience. This ensures that we are tackling real problems that students face, not problems we think they have. From that foundation, designers use creative thinking exercises and user feedback to continue the cyclic process of ideation and iteration.

🏅 Day of the event!

We woke up early on Saturday morning with an action-packed day of teaching the design process to the kids! We planned an outline of covering design cornerstones like identifying problem spaces, performing user researching, using creative thinking exercises to come up with ideas. In addition, we had a guest presenter teach the students an introduction to TinkerCAD, as well as explore the Makerspace in Mann Library. At the end of the day, students presented their design journey and the solutions they dreamed up to solve problems within their community.

One team brainstorming possible problem spaces
Students build their prototypes with everyday items (left, right) and using software like TinkerCAD (center)

📝 Reflection

After hosting our first event, we learned a lot about what we would like to do better for the future! Here we summarize some of the things we learned.

  • Transportation — Many people we talked to reported wanting to come to the event, but transportation to Cornell was an issue for them. In the future, and with more funding, we would have pursued possible solutions into getting students to the event.

📸 Media

Our flyer

Cornell DTI

Creating technology for community impact

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