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Project Protect and Healthy House Win at Innovate to Grow Fall 2020

December 24, 2020

The biannual showcase event, Innovate to Grow (I2G), continues virtually this semester to present the tenacity of UC Merced students to serve their community through innovative projects.

I2G has traditionally been an all-day event on campus with an awards ceremony and reception following a poster expo and presentation period. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the event needed to be shifted virtually to follow the CDC guidelines.

Innovate to Grow began in 2012 as an idea outlined on the back of a napkin and has grown into an event that connects our students with the community to work on projects that benefit the world around them.

There are three tracks that participate in I2G: Engineering Service Learning, Software Engineering Capstone, and Capstone Innovation Design Clinic.

Each project is sponsored by a small business or nonprofit organization from Merced County. The students get a hands-on experience of working in teams to take on projects in the real world. Each team is asked to demonstrate and explain its project before a panel of judges, which includes community leaders and industry representatives, giving teams an idea of how their projects are received by the community.

At the end of the event there were seven winning teams, each winning a cash prize of up to $2,500.

In Capstone Innovation Design Clinic, there were four winners: HBME Wetland Consulting (CAP 17), Suction Fan Optimization (CAP 12), G.A.S.S. Engineering (CAP 20), and Garden Street Team (CAP 15).

In Software Engineering Capstone, there were two winners: Mace (CSE 08) and Helping Hands (CSE 04).

But in Engineering Service Learning, there was one winner: Project Protect.

Partnering with Healthy House, Project Protect has worked to develop a mobile application to aid later-in-life individuals who feel isolated in their communities in connect back into social groups.

Healthy House is a non-profit organization that serves the Merced community. Their goal is to bridge the gap between western medicine and cultural beliefs. Healthy House has partnered with Engineering Service in previous years to develop an application to connect non-English speaking patients with direct translation of their medical information. This year, Healthy House recognized the need to reunite isolated elders back into the Merced community.

Within the application, there are four different components to assist users: a questionnaire to pair the user with a community organization, a tool for updating the user’s information, a resource center, and a hotline function. With these four components, users are able to contact and have access to resources to help them find communities of their interest.

This application will greatly affect the elder population in Merced and allow them to reconnect with social communities. The mobile application is expected to be available for download in April of 2021.