We had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Kulikowski, a student founder of the DFA studio at Virginia Tech about a recent project of theirs, the BurgFinder. The BurgFinder is a series of town signs to promote alternative modes of transportation, involving visual cues that use time as a measurement of distance to a particular destination by biking or walking, making it easier to get around town outside of an automobile.
How did you guys decide to tackle this local challenge?
We focused on alternative transportation for our first run at the DFA process last spring because it is a hot topic in Blacksburg and easily identifiable for everyone. Through the kickoff workshop, we were excited to conduct some guerrilla type experiments and avoid the red tape of seeking approval with controversial proposals.
The results are in, the DFA Right Angle is able to reduce water use in cafeterias by half. After two days of testing, team lead, Thea Klein-Mayer galvanized a team of students to watch and observe cafeteria staff during open hours. Day one, the team created a baseline and measured that the for a 9 hour day, the water was on for 5 hours. Day two, with the Right Angle in place, this amount was brought down to 2.7 hours, that’s a reduction of nearly half!
“With Stars in their Eyes, DFA Students want to change the world,” is the title of Fast Company’s feature on Design for America. And this couldn’t ring more true.
As we just witnessed the breadth of energy and enthusiasm from our Summer Leadership Studio, we know that DFA students, now at eight universities throughout the country, are not waiting for a changed world, but are creating it.
From improving the lives of children with diabetes to improving foot care for the homeless, DFA students are tackling the complex issues of today, one project at a time with tireless efforts in interdisciplinary teams.
I think we can safely say from all of us at DFA, it is a huge honor to be highlighted by such a well-respected source and couldn’t be more thrilled. We only hope that this type of recognition will help broaden our reach and our abilities to make tangible impact in our communities and in America.
We are mentioned twice, so here’s a clip from the main article, United States of Design.
In typical American fashion, the antidote to a vacuum of governmental support has been the recent creation of an unofficial, bottom-up, democratic ecosystem. Scott Wilson tapped into that ecosystem via Kickstarter, and there are many other strains–from crafts seller Etsy to social product-development company Quirky to fast-expanding online design communities such as Behance, Dribbble, Ffffound, Forrst, Svpply, and others. These sites give designers venues to share and vet their creations, to reach out to prospective employers, and to launch businesses without suffering through the complexity and obstacles of traditional capital raising or infrastructure building. A burgeoning national student organization called Design for America, started at Northwestern by Yuri Malina, Mert Iseri, Hannah Chung, and Liz Gerber, is bringing design-process thinking to students at eight universities across the country, who typically might imagine that design encompasses furniture, fashion, and little more. There’s even interest in Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists have created a not-for-profit called the Designer Fund to train and capitalize designers.
Founded in May 2009, Sandbox is the foremost global community of extraordinary young achievers between 20 and 30. They identify entrepreneurial young people worldwide that already have an impressive impact at a very young age, no matter in what field or industry. Our very own Yuri Malina has been chosen as a Sandbox Entrepeneur and interviewed here!