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Training Wheels: Capstone Bootcamp Reflection

Through the BLI Capstone Project, we were able to hash out a more detailed understanding and plan of our Capstone idea for an electric motorcycle. Before Capstone Bootcamp, the project idea was much simpler: we just wanted to build an electric motorcycle and create a build team for non-STEM students with a more relaxed culture. If we had interested applicants, we’d teach them the necessary engineering skills to work on the bike with us.

Bootcamp really allowed us to flesh out this idea more, and our current project idea is as follows: we aim to create a small team of students (10 or so) focused on giving non-engineering majors a beginner-friendly opportunity to develop technical skills and relevant soft skills that will make them more desirable to recruiters while giving them confidence in their professional and technical ability. The idea is that Training Wheels will focus on larger scope technical projects that require invested interdisciplinary effort to reach our lofty ambitions; in this case, since our project is in its infancy stage, we went ahead and chose an electric motorcycle, since we were both very interested in being able to build and ride one. Depending on if our team members want to continue on with the idea of Training Wheels, they can choose whatever they want for the subsequent projects, as long as each team member is interested.

Some of our personal highlights during boot camp was being able to reconnect with our primary motivators for this project. Training Wheels originated from our personal frustration with being unable to find a beginner-friendly build team on campus and unsuccessfully recruiting for engineering internships without relevant experience. Through Training Wheels, we want to pay-it-forward and try to help others struggling with career-related anxiety, in the same way, our mentors had helped us with career development and professional confidence.

Activity wise, we greatly appreciated the pitch practices and feedback from both the BLI staff and active community members, as we really had no idea how to do that given our shared background in Mechanical Engineering. We also loved the opportunities to understand how Mindfulness concepts (active listening, generative listening, appreciative inquiry, cultural humility, etc) can apply to team/organizational settings, as once again, we don’t get that sort of training in Mechanical Engineering.

By, Kai Schiefer, Luke Wong

Capstone 2019 — The Teams

The Barger Leadership Institute is pleased to announce the 2019 Capstone Program teams! These six teams will engage in eight months of designing and implementing evidence-based, collaborative projects that seek to bring about small (and big) wins for the complex problems of today. After eight months of individualized mentorship, research and project management training, and many opportunities to master effective leadership habits.

Building Practical Skills, Practical Mindsets, and a Practical Electric Motorcycle
Kai Schiefer, Luke Wong
This team hopes to reduce carbon emissions by creating an electric motorcycle prototype and introduce technical and management skills to college and high school students.

Host Your Voice*
Amulya Parmar, Ankit Patel, Varun Madan
This team hopes to support nonprofit organizations in reaching more people through online and digital advertising.

arete (philosopy in prisons project)
Rhea Dhingra, Razeen Karim, Osama Saeed
This team hopes to improve in-prison rehabilitation by engaging current incarcerated members in facilitated discussions of philosophical texts.

Project Healthy Schools Global Initiative
Khadiza Begum, Faatimah Raisa, Joeita MacField
This team hopes to create a community-based movement for public health and prevention and promote health literacy. It also seeks to mobilize communities to address social disparities related to health and wellness, be it the disproportionately low access to healthy foods for students of low socioeconomic backgrounds or the limited access to exercise opportunities for young women.

IceVax
Sikander Khan, Essam Al-Snayyan, Huzaifa Piperdi
This team hopes to design and distribute car battery-operated cold boxes to transport vaccines at an appropriate temperature over long distances.

Health Promotion at UM (HPUM)
Leo Thompson, Monna Meng, Grace Tremonti
This team hopes to improve the health of all people, especially the under-served, through volunteering in the local community and educating the public, while also building a close-knit community for their members to passionately apply medicine and public health to better the lives of others. Their Capstone goal is to achieve sustainability, facilitate volunteer growth by improving their marketing and recruitment, facilitate operational expansion, and optimize operations.

* The BLI and The London Idea are thrilled to name Host Your Voice as the London Idea Project for the 2019 Capstone Program! Learn more about the London Idea and the BLI partnership here.

Science Olympiad!

The event we hosted was a Science Olympiad tournament to over 900 students across Michigan and surrounding states. Science Olympiad is a high school competition consisting of 23 different STEM-related with emphases in areas like astronomy, herpetology, physiology, and several others. Events range from completing a test to piloting a pre-built device, to completing a lab experiment.

All in all, I would say the Science Olympiad tournament that we hosted was very successful, albeit with a few hiccups along the way. Throughout the days leading up to the competition and during the competition we did run into a few problems. For example two teams decided to cancel attending relatively last minute. Although annoying, the event itself was not dramatically negatively impacted as we still had the vast majority of the other teams attending. However, the team did discuss what could be done in the future to discourage this type of behavior. Possible discussed solutions included a fine, not inviting them back among others. Other problems arose during the day of the competition when we discovered that we could not unlock several rooms that we had reserved before-hands. This caused one of our events to run a little behind schedule as we had to quickly find alternate classrooms for our participants. An unexpected fire-drill further exacerbated this problem. Nevertheless, the team stayed adaptable and found suitable accommodations relatively quickly. The last problem we ran into was the discovery that for one of the events, the final scores had been tabulated incorrectly, altering some placements for teams. To rectify this, we quickly sent out an apology after the event with updated standings and offered to send medals to teams that were affected.

Overall, from the feedback we received from our participants, the event itself was organized very well. Compared to many other invitationals that they’ve been to, ours was organized at a much grander scale and generally provided better facilities. The additional prizes we gave to first place teams was also a welcome feature. For some individuals, the tests we provided were deemed “too hard”. However, we actually created difficult exams by design to truly test the preparation and intellect of our participants.


The event also developed several leadership skills and BLI habits. For example, we worked hard to build a team that had complementary goals and skill-sets from the executive board, to our sub- teams, to our volunteers. We also remained adaptable the days leading up to and during the competition when a lot of unforeseen mishaps arose.

Lastly, we worked hard to engage as many students as possible in our event in order to share our love of science and learning with as many individuals as possible.
From the team’s perspective, we are extremely pleased about how this event turned out and look forward to making it even better moving forward. This is something that we will continue discussing and planning throughout this year and next.

 

By: Adam Shen

Team Diversity – Bias Incident Reporting

Our original vision called for a student maintained response system to bias incidents on campus, but we quickly realized that this was not realistic for our time constraint. We then decided to simply focus on the University’s bias incident reporting log. After realizing that none of us actually knew how to report a bias incident to the university, we made this the focus of our project. We partnered with Expect Respect and held a successful tabling event that taught students how to identify a bias incident and all the ways to report it to the University. People were able to enjoy a free donut, take a flyer with all the information we gave them, and take swag (stickers, buttons, and bracelets) provided by Expect Respect. We sent out a survey before the event and learned that 76.9 % of students did not feel confident identifying a bias incident, and 50% of those students did not know how to report one to the University. After visiting our table, 84.1% felt confident they could identify a bias incident and 62.2% knew how to report an incident to the university. We were able to teach students how to report a bias incident in a short amount of time and make a small positive impact for diversity in our campus community.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that guided our project were “Start Small,” “Build a Team,” and “Collect, Combine, Create.” Initially, we found that it was difficult to find a project that was small enough to have a big impact on the community. Once we completely changed our project, we were able to better collect our thoughts, combine as a team, and create a project that would benefit the student population. In our weekly meetings, we welcomed new ideas and combined our visions of a successful project. Finally, we were able to build a team, not only within our immediate group, but the community at large. We partnered with Expect Respect to develop a project that increased awareness on what a bias incident is and how to report it.

One of the biggest challenges that we faced was that our issue was quite broad, and knowing our time and resources were a bit limited, we needed to rethink our initial idea. Thus, we opted to develop a plan in which a meaningful impact can be made but just executed on a smaller scale. Since our initial plan was ambitious, we realized this soon enough and reconstructed our project idea to better meet the expectations set for us. As mentioned in the BLI habits that were exercised, we focused on starting small and developing a more realistic perspective to tackle the issue at hand, which was the lack of exposure to reporting bias incidents. After our event, this method proved to be successful as we were able to gather a significant amount of people to come by and grab a donut while learning how to report bias incidents!

Our team included people from three out of the four grade levels, and all different experiences at the University of Michigan. Our team really succeeded in collaborating because we are able to combine our different perspectives, and contribute each of our individual vision for what this project should look like, to make an end product we will all proud of. When we began working, we all had different ideas of what this project should look like, but by taking the time during our meeting to describe what we wanted to get out of this experience, we were able to make sure everyone’s ideas were equally represented. Other than that, everyone in our group were just kind to one another. The respect each member of the group gave to each other was part of the reason why our group had such an accepting climate: it was very comfortable to contribute new ideas. As opposed to what our group succeeded in, the primary area where our group struggled was finding a good time for us all to meet. It was really hard to all meet up at the same time since we had time-conflicting prior commitments. We ended up making it work in the end though by utilizing online messages software like GroupMe to communicate ideas.

As we were working on this project, our group gained many skills that were useful for personal development. We learned to inform other team members when problems arise such as schedule conflict and to give each other’s honest feedback. This allowed us to have an open and efficient communication in a group setting. We also learned to formulate a clear and practical goal that our group could accomplish in a limited time and resources which helped us develop a smart planning strategy for future projects. It was definitely hard to coordinate meeting times with not only the other team members but also our partner Expect Respect, but we learned to still be actively engaged through different means of communication and to be more flexible. The acquisition of these essential skills defines the success of our project.

The project was a great success, and as such, we are excited about potentially putting on this event again, potentially once or twice per semester. Since the logistical elements have now been figured out, it would not be too difficult to put this event on again, and we were able to successfully connect with a lot of students in a short time period. Moving forward, our team is considering continuing to work together and with BLI to sponsor this donut event once-twice per semester, but we also have individual goals within BLI. All of us are interested in continuing our leadership here in some capacity, whether than be through trips, the capstone, or potentially teaching the course next semester!

 

By: Devan O’Toole, Evie Winter, Mehrin Ahmed, Sophie Partington, Hannah Dang, and Ashya Smith