Women + Social Good:
Trailblazers Who Want to Help You!
Trailblazers Who Want to Help You!
As we transition to a new month, Women@TheFrontier has chosen to start a discussion about social good and the incredible women bettering the world. These trailblazers are scaling up social good big time. They’re crushing stereotypes, inventing, innovating, and impacting millions of people. Now, they want to help you!
by Ambika Gogna
The saying “no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” by the ancient Greek author, Aesop, has stuck with me since I came across it. It’s inspiring, yet simple, and reminds one of the underlying importance of doing things for other people.
In the traditional sense, social good refers to actions or services that benefit society. However, in a world driven by technology and reliant on interconnectedness, the term has evolved. Now, it tends to heavily involve innovation and the use of science and technology to benefit society.
As we transition to a new month, Women@TheFrontier has chosen to stimulate a discussion about social good and the incredible women at the forefront of bettering the world. These women are scaling up social good big time. They’re crushing stereotypes, inventing, innovating, and impacting millions of people. That’s what the women we’re going to discuss are all about.
Here are 6 Trailblazers in Social Good Who Want to Help You:
1. Lili Zyszkowski – Inventor
Lili Zyszkowski is a 15-year-old inventor and the youngest winner of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award. She is best known for her invention that helps track medication intake, called PillMinder. An idea that materialized after her grandfather dangerously overdosed on medication.
Zyszkowski developed a working model using touch sensors, capacitive chips, and a microcontroller. She presented it at the Connecticut Invention Convention last year where she won several awards. In collaboration with Gatekeeper Innovation, Zyszkowski continued to develop her idea further with a bottle cap design that only allows for authorized access to medicine. She displayed her creation at the White House Science Fair this April. Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut also invited Zyszkowski to discuss how the technology can curb the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. At 15-years-old, this maker is already working towards solving issues with serious consequences.
2. Rupal Patel – Speech Scientist
While British physicist, Stephen Hawking is probably the most well-known user of a speech-generating device (SGD), Rupal Patel is the speech scientist transforming it. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) estimates that over two million people suffer from significant language impairments that require them to use an SGD, an electronic and portable system that produces digital and often metallic sounding speech. For this reason, Patel developed VocaliD, a technology which creates personalized voices for the speech impaired. It blends recipient and donor voices to produce an output voice to match the user’s identity.
In order to create the voices, VocaliD takes voice recordings from a donor and any capacity of voice recordings from the person who will receive a customized voice. It merges the two together to produce a clear speech expression. Currently a Professor at Northeastern University, Patel also launched the Human Voicebank Initiative, an ambitious plan to crowdsource one million voices from donors and use them to build customized voices.
3. Hannah Herbst – One of America’s Youngest Scientists
Another remarkable 15-year-old, Hannah Herbst, is turning water into renewable energy…literally! She is the 2015 winner of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her Ocean Energy Probe called BEACON, Bringing Electricity Access to Countries Through Ocean Energy Collection. She recognized the potential of ocean current as a renewable energy source and discovered a way to use it to solve basic necessity deficiencies, such as access to clean drinking water in developing countries.
How does BEACON function? The ocean tide fuels the propellor, which through a pulley system powers and stores the energy in a hydroelectric generator. If BEACON is scaled up, Herbst says it can power three car batteries in less than an hour. The energy that accumulates can be used for purposes like desalinating water. Her Ocean Energy Probe also poses to aid the world’s energy crisis.
4.Tiffany Miranda – Founder of Girls Make Beats
Tiffany Miranda is a musician, audio engineer, and the force behind the non-profit organization Girls Make Beats. She began as a recording artist working with prominent artists such as Pitbull and DJ Khaled, but soon realized girls in the music industry lacked roles with ‘creative control.’ Miranda wanted to balance the ratio of girls and women in the fields of audio engineering and music production—so began Girls Make Beats.
In addition to workshops, she hosts camps, educational seminars, and provides networking opportunities to learners. Women’s equality remains a persisting topic, and Tiffany Miranda works toward raising awareness about a field she and many other girls may be passionate about, if given the right opportunities and exposure.
5. Judith Owigar – Technopreneur, Tech-Enthusiast
Judith Owigar is a Kenyan technopreneur, enhancing the lives of women in Africa. As founder of the non-profit organization AkiraChix, she raises awareness about technology and science, and enables women and girls to come up with technological solutions on their own. The nonprofit organization aims to educate women of all ages on the possibilities of technology and prove women in tech will transform Africa’s future!
Determined to apply her tech skills, Owigar also founded JuaKali, a company that helps manual workers in the informal sector find work with clients in the construction industry. Initially, it began as an online portal to connect workers to clients but has since expanded to more accessible SMS and Mobile App services.
6. Jane McGonigal – Game Designer
Gaming has been called this generation’s storytelling, and Jane McGonigal uses the multi-billion dollar platform for social impact. This trailblazer is a developer who designs games to solve real life problems, particularly through alternate reality. Her best-known creation, SuperBetter, aims to bring out positive character traits in people, such as courage and determination, and helps them apply it to real life. Studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University show that playing SuperBetter increased satisfaction of players lives, positive moods, and helped users obtain more self-confidence in their abilities.
What are your thoughts on social good and innovation? Who are the women inspiring you? Let us know!