Preparing for a Natural Disaster with Illumiloon


Along with receiving a DFA Impact Grant, the DFA Yale project Illumiloon made a name for itself as part of the South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX this year by partnering with the Field Innovation Team (FIT).

Tom’s Guide coverage of SXSW said, “The Illumiloon from Yale University was one of the simplest but potentially most useful robots on display.”

After bring approached by natural disaster innovator, Desiree Matel Anderson, Design for America challenged their national network to find solutions to local natural disasters. Responding to this call and their personal experiences with hurricane Sandy, Illumiloon was born.

The team created Illumiloon to be used as a method of communication during natural disasters when other methods of communication fail. These self-inflating, helium-filled balloons would be attached to the homes of disaster victims and can be customized with color-coded tags to signal different needs – such as food, water, or medical attention.

DFA Collab Ver.1 Is Now Live!


Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 9.59.53 AMThe DFA Collaborative website is now live! DFA Alum have been working hard to build a website and community to support DFA students, alum and like-minded professionals in their endeavors to make this world a better place through design and social impact leadership. The DFA Collaborative is an extension of the DFA experience into the professional world and beyond.

View original article and explore the DFA Collaborative Website here.

New Studios Announced for Fall 2015


Screenshot 2015-06-05 17.24.00

We are very excited to share that this year, we have accepted EIGHT new studios to the DFA Network! These students have worked incredibly hard to build a community, amplify human centered design, conduct a one-month project, and get their leadership team geared up to hit the ground running in fall 2015 to create local and social change.

Learn about the school below in their own words and project videos!

Promoting Biking in New Haven

The cozy, communal streets of New Haven have been amped up thanks to Yale University DFAers.

Douglas Wong, Joel Sher and Cameron Yick have been creating “ArtRacks” to enhance the New Haven society. Their project showcases non-traditional, custom bike racks to bring attention to the importance of health, community and positive impact.


Update: Girls Driving for A Difference

We first posted about the Girls Driving for a Difference initiative from founders and DFA Stanford leaders, Jenna Leonardo and Katie Kirsch back in December. Now, they are wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign (raising over $34,000!), gaining well-deserved national attention, inspiring others with their story, reflecting on their pilot over spring break and planning their summer in detail. We can’t wait to see what’s next in this exciting journey!



DFA Leaders on Confronting Challenges

As the second installation of our Q&A with studio leads Sonja Ellicott (University of Oregon) and Zonghe Chua (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Sonja and Zonghe give advice on how to address challenges that arise. Check out there first post here!

- What did you learn most about effective leadership during your time as studio lead?

Zonghe: I think I learned how to design a studio experience that provides both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to all its members. Intrinsic motivations come from listening to the needs of the studio’s members and making sure that you try your best to meet their expectations for personal and professional development.

General Assembly Gives DFA GA Front Row!

DFA has a new partnership!  logo

General Assembly, a worldwide institution that seeks to educate and empower individuals who are pursuing work in technology, business and design, has joined the DFA community!

All registered students within DFA will receive a free 6 month membership to GA Front Row! This is almost a $300 value!!! As a subscriber for GA Front Row, there will be unlimited access to on-demand and live stream classes that teach all things ranging from data analysis to product and web design.


DFA Leaders on Being a Leader

Sonja Ellicott at the DFA Leadership Studio, listening intently.

Sonja Ellicott at the DFA Leadership Studio, listening intently.

Zonghe Chua works with fellow DFAers at the annual Leadership Studio

Zonghe Chua works with fellow DFAers at the annual Leadership Studio

To kick off our series highlighting DFAers and their work, we’ll hear from two experienced studio leads. As DFA is excited to develop leaders of innovation, we set out to learn from our best. Studio leads Sonja Ellicott (University of Oregon) and Zonghe Chua (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) lend insight into what it means to be a leader, as they help newly minted studio leads transition into their roles.


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