Design for America would like to welcome our newest studio, DFA Pitt, to the DFAmily! Inspired by his step-brother Zach, DFA U Maryland Co-founder, Pitt sophomore Raanan Gurewitsch rallied a group of students from all across the university to start a DFA studio. Housed within the Innovation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, DFA Pitt is mentored by accomplished faculty Susan Dorff and Babs Carryer, with support from Don Morrison.

This talented group of students worked throughout Fall 2016 to bring DFA to their campus. Passionate about working closely with the community of Pittsburgh, they pulled out their Post-its and pens, brainstorming areas in which they could make impact. One student mentioned her family had recently received a letter about the lead water crisis occurring in many homes throughout the Pittsburgh area. Motivated by such a topical challenge, students heavily researched the issue, leading them to partnering with Clean Water Action (CWA), a local chapter of a national organization devoted to protecting drinking water and cleaning up polluted waterways. With the support and input of CWA, DFA Pitt sought to find more affordable water filtration methods for those who do not have access to the pricey alternatives in the current market.

After gaining extensive background on water chemistry and on the origin of the lead problem in cities around the US, students in DFA Pitt continued to gain insights through sitting down with a local woman and mother of two living in a neighborhood heavily affected by lead pollution, who has been active in her community about the issue. From talking with her, Pitt students pivoted from developing cheaper testing kits to looking at how children experience and understand the lead issue, because children are more likely to suffer from serious side effects of lead-poisoned drinking water.

Looking to continue this project this spring, DFA Pitt plans to work in local elementary schools where students are learning about water in science class. They hope to amplify the curriculum with informational kits about lead poisoning, in an effort for students to bring their learnings into their homes so families can learn steps to take to prevent lead poisoning.

We are excited for what DFA Pitt’s project has done thus far to improve clean water access in their community and know it is just a glimpse of what’s to come for their studio in the future! To connect with DFA Pitt, like them on Facebook, follow the Innovation Institute, or reach out to upittsburgh@designforamerica.com.

Check out their final project video here!