After an entire summer of connecting, collaborating, crowdfunding (and failing), a few students from University of California, Irvine, Orange Coast College, and Irvine Valley College were able to rally up a film crew, find a space to host STEMbility, get technological resources, and promote the startup student-run organization. STEMbility was able to launch in September 2015.
STEMbility is a web series on YouTube featuring undergraduate students creating S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) integrated projects with real-world applications.
Reaching out to the community opened many doors for the members of STEMbility, through which they were able to get a board of knowledgeable advisors from the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields, form a community partnership with Listo America ( a STEM-focused non-profit), and get sponsored by IEEE, a professional association for the advancement of technology, through a grant which allows for the purchase of electrical materials.
Season 1 of STEMbility’s web series followed the journeys of 4 “Innovators” who were selected to create open-source S.T.E.M. projects, and share their knowledge and experience with each other.
Ahmed Gorashi and Kausthub Raj Jadhav, both students at UCI created an application called “Callenge”, which allows users to challenge their peers in health, by tracking what they have been eating all day and making a game out of it (to see who reaches the set goal first). As stated in the Callenge project technical report, Gorashi and Jadhav state that “the main takeaway of developing Callenge is learning how to become proficient software developers, understand market trends behind what consumers like in an exercise-oriented application, and to test the waters of how to make a full-fledged mobile application from conceptualization to finalization”.
One of STEMbility’s primary goals is to provide undergraduate students the skills they will need in the S.T.E.M. workforce. Gorashi explains how before getting involved with STEMbility, he “lacked a sense of narrative direction when it came to talking about topics I felt passionately about, but through helpful advice from my STEMbility mentors, I was able to take what I extensively know and apply it into a professional manner”. Jadhav reveals that his experience at STEMbility motivated him to cofound a start-up; “I would have never done it had I not met the other participants”.
The Innovators of Season 1 were split into 2 teams and each worked on completely different technological projects. Nevertheless, both projects had a purpose of positively impacting the health of people.
Danbi (Janet) Kim from UCI, and Brian Tan, student at Cal Poly Pomona (formerly OCC) were teamed up and created “pH2O”, a device that checks the pH level of the water you are drinking water and sends the data to your mobile application. It then analyzes the data and displays the possible health effects and risks of your drinking water. Kim’s and Tan’s desired outcome for the pH2O project was to show the public the “importance of the purity of water and the tremendous effect the pollution of water has on the health of society in the long run”.
Working with others in a team and being a leader are two well-known elements that an individual in the workforce should possess. The “innovators” at STEMbility are placed in a team with another student of a different STEM major (even a different school). Heads may clash when thinking about ideas and solutions, however this environment is inevitable and is essential for students to experience. “Sure, anyone can sit in a cubicle and follow orders from a manager, but it takes real creativity, critical thinking, and cooperation to be able to be your own boss. I know for certain, my sense in confidence in working with a partner has increased dramatically” (Tan). Kim explains how “it may get difficult during the process of completing a huge project, but communicating with one another is the key to figure out a good solution to get passed the difficult stage”.
From becoming more inspired in their major, to even becoming aspiring entrepreneurs, STEMbility has given the undergraduate students of Season 1 an unforgettable and impactful experience. They now possess motivation and skills that they may have not otherwise gained anywhere else.