In Fall 2015, DFAers across the country worked on meaningful, local, and scalable projects that ranged from inspiring low-income middle students to pursue their interests to combating loneliness in the elderly community. Overall we had:

Project Gallery 2015 stats


Check out the full range of work on our project gallery on facebook and read more about the inspirational works in progress below:


DFA health-related projects include:

  • Making mental health resources more approachable for students.
  • Preventing drowsy or distracted driving during routine trips.
  • Promoting healing for patients by eliminating unnecessary noise in hospitals.
  • Helping older adults adhere to their prescription medication.
  • Combating loneliness in the elderly community.


Silent Push | DFA Vanderbilt
How can we make promote healing for patients in noisy hospital environments?

DFA Vanderbilt_Silent Push


hen DFA Vanderbilt students found that the loud opening and shutting of doors disrupted patients’ healing, they developed Silent Push – a device that constrains the push bar on doors to prevent the bar from making noise when the door is opened. This is an initial prototype applied to a door that they will continue to develop this Spring.


Demystifying Prescription Medicines | DFA RISD|Brown
How can we help older adults remember to take their prescription medication?

DFA RISD|Brown_Medwatch

DFA RISD|Brown students found that 50% of medication is not taken as prescribed, contributing to 125,000 deaths/year. They designed Medwatch, an interactive bracelet with rotating tiles that show the time of dose and the medication’s purpose. While wearing the Medwatch, users rotate the band after taking a medication, displaying the tile of the next dose in the schedule. They built this prototype after surveying over 60 older adults and iterating on the iconography.


What’s Next | DFA Wash U
How can we combat loneliness in the elderly community?

DFA Wash U_What's Next

For older adults who are approaching retirement or already retired, the feeling of loneliness is quite common and can take a toll on their mental health. DFA Wash U students are proposing What’s Next to combat this. What’s Next is a social search engine for people approaching retirement and beyond to find activities in their community and others with similar interests according to their specific interests. Their goal is to iterate on these mockups to design a live website.



DFA environment-related projects include:

  • Promoting alternative modes of transportation throughout the city.
  • Increasing the adoption of renewable energy sources.
  • Raising awareness of local natural ecosystems.
  • Reducing food waste on campus cafeterias.


Bowl Coaster | DFA Rice
How can we encourage students to accurately portion the amount of food they intend to eat in Rice serveries to reduce waste?

DFA Rice_Bowl Coaster

DFA Rice students observed that a lot of the food wasted on campus cafeterias was due to students piling too much on their plates and resulting in undesirable food mixing. They designed the Bowl Coaster to encourage students to place a bowl on their plate and accurately portion their serving, leading to much cleaner plates upon testing with students. Having conducted extensive testing in one of their cafeterias (Seibel Servery), they plan to iterate on the form and distribution of the coaster.


Waste Signs | DFA Oregon
How can we help students in the dining halls sort trash, recycling, and compost more accurately?

DFA U Oregon_Environment (1)

Oftentimes when trash, recycling, and compost get mixed in the same bin, facilities are forced to throw it all in the trash. DFA Oregon students distinguished between the three by building signs that are more interesting and readable by using the actual items from the dining halls. Check out these fun signs! (pre-label)



DFA education-related projects include:

  • Reimagining the cost of higher education and how it’s paid for.
  • Helping people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and ADHD with reading comprehension.
  • Helping academically disadvantaged youth in the juvenile justice system envision their future.
  • Empowering under-served students to explore their interests outside of school.

YouCanStartNow Kit | DFA Stanford
How can we empower under-served middle school students to explore their interests outside of school?

DFA Stanford_YouCanStartNow

Middle school students in low-resource communities often lack the means and confidence to explore their interests outside of school. DFA Stanford students put together the YouCanStartNow Kit to provide students with materials and activities that allow them to explore interests like robotics and share with their friends. They will continue to prototype kits and test with excited middle schoolers!


Tech or Treat | DFA Virginia Tech
How can we engage children and adults and get them interested in STEM fields at the Tech or Treat event?

VAtech_Tech or Treat

Tech or Treat is a Halloween-themed event at Virginia Tech that infuses science, technology, engineering, and math. DFA Virginia Tech students created a phytosaur skeleton and hosted a phytosaur mask making booth at the event to spark interest about the aquatic creature and get children and their parents interested in marine biology. Next year, they will build on their learnings to create another great interactive experience!



DFA economy-related projects include:

  • Helping homeless individuals stay warm and dry during bad weather.
  • Easing the transition of victims of domestic violence after leaving.


Jarduino | DFA MSU
How can we encourage people to donate spare change to local charities?

DFA MSU Jarduino

Many of us walk around with extra change in our pockets, and while one person’s change isn’t much, combined we’ve got a lot of extra cash lying around. DFA MSU students wanted to steer that extra cash to a social cause and developed Jarduino, a hardware solution for donation jars that can detect and respond to donations that encourages people to donate spare change from transactions. They plan to test their prototype and implement it locally.


We’d like to thank Adobe for providing students with tools like the Adobe Creative Cloud Software to empower them to communicate and build their innovative solutions!