Tara Grebe: Navigating Paths of Design and Engagement

In classrooms and lecture halls across Michigan Engineering, you might find Tara Grebe, a graduate student, serving as a graduate facilitator for the Center for Socially Engaged Design (C-SED).

LIFT: The importance of listening in the design process

LIFT, which stands for “Leveraging Inclusive Functional Transfers,” is a project team dedicated to offering support for those who provide care for older adults.

Shannon Clancy: A C-SED Superstar

Read about C-SED's Shannon Clancy’s exploration into the world of engineering and socially engaged design has been one characterized by self-discovery, mentorship, and a passion for teaching. 

Firearm Injury Prevention & Recovery Design Jam: A Creative Approach to a Critical Issue

The UnBook Club: a club for everyone

Since 2020, C-SED has offered an annual book club providing discussion opportunities regarding the intersection of design and equity. This year, book club looked a little different.

Introducing: The Innovation in Action Fellowship

Ten years later after its first cohort of teams, Innovation in Action is expanding into the summer with the very first Innovation in Action Fellowship.

AudioOdyssey: Protecting Long-Haul Truckers One Story at a Time

This IiA team spent the last year building a platform designed to prevent drowsy driving accidents among truck drivers through engaging and interactive audio entertainment with the mission to stop accidents on the road and save lives.
Staff facilitators and faculty participants work to on contributions to Day 1 of a Grant Sprint.

The Grant Sprint: From ideation to impact

Pictured Above is a Grant Sprint™ -- a novel method for drafting grant proposals in order to synthesize the ideas from the entire writing team. It’s a more collaborative, efficient, and fun way to write proposals. 

Innovation in Action’s 10th Annual Final Showcase

For ten years, the Innovation in Action program has never failed to produce extraordinary innovators, entrepreneurs, and teams passionate about making the world a better place.

Celebrating 10 Years of Innovation in Action Challenges

Innovation in Action (IiA) at the University of Michigan is a campus-wide program giving student groups the opportunity, the tools, the people, and the room to take on the world’s biggest challenges.

Engineering for Social Impact: Making a Better World

In the engineering industry, engineers are given problems to solve without being asked to consider the social impact of their decisions. Although engineers consider bodily safety when designing, societal harm is rarely considered and this discrepancy brings a host of unintended consequences.

Staff Spotlight: Jessica Cichowlas

Jessica Cichowlas serves C-SED as the Office Operations and Engagement Coordinator. She joined our team this summer and is looking forward to her first academic year on the job!

Staff Spotlight: Ilka Rodriguez-Calero

Ilka Rodriguez-Calero serves C-SED as the Education Program Design and Management Lead. She joined our team early this summer and is looking forward to her first academic year on the job!

Staff Spotlight: Erika Mosyjowski

Erika Mosyjowski serves C-SED as our Research and Faculty Engagement Manager. Read about her role and what she is looking forward to this year!

The College of Engineering Uses SED Process for DEI Strategic Plan

Traditionally, the Socially Engaged Design Process model is a tool referenced at all stages of a project, but Heidi and Tershia took a unique approach by using the model as a retroactive guide to organize their reflections and findings for the first five years of the CoE’s DEI Strategic Plan.

Innovation Salon

Innovation Salon, or a facilitated gathering of people with diverse backgrounds and expertise who have in-depth discussions about innovation in a particular area of interest.

Memento Mori: Coming to Peace with Death

Maura McInerney-Rowley, a recent graduate from the University of Michigan’s Ross College of Business MBA program, conceptualized the idea for Memento Mori (formally known as WILD) after a series of experiences that brought death, dying, and grief into the forefront of her mind.

Cityzen: Equipping Young People with the Hope for Change

Chewy, Jawuan, and Nina joined Innovation in Action as Team Civic Junction. Driven by the vision of a user-friendly, gamified political engagement app, they began to create “Cityzen.”

Eatclusive: Cultivating Community through Food Accessibility

Before forming Team Eatclusive and beginning their work toward making cultural produce more accessible in food pantries, Innovation in Action Participants shared a vision of making a positive impact on the communities around them.

Friend Time: A Parent Organized Social Platform

Friend Time, created by Patrice Johnson and Taryn Cyrus, helps parents of children in grades K-2 coordinate social time with friends.

Beyond Barcode: Designing Environmental Empowerment

Paolo believes that by making information on the toxicity of everyday pesticides accessible, consumers can be empowered to make an impact by advocating for their health and protecting the environment. That’s where Beyond Barcode comes in.

Equityish: Pay Deserves an Analysis

For every $1 a white man earned in 2020, a woman made $.82, a black woman made $.62 and a latina woman made $.54. This data alone clearly demonstrates that a pay gap persists,  a phenomena that we became determined to figure out and approach in a new way.

Grateful for C-SED’s Graduates

C-SED wouldn’t exist without the people behind it helping our collaboration space come to life. As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, we want to showcase our graduating students.

Staff Spotlight: Sara Hoffman

Sara Hoffman serves the Center for Socially Engaged Design as the DEI Curriculum Development Manager.

Pacaya: Apparel for the Outdoors

When thinking about the planet’s most polluting industries, transportation and agriculture are the first to come to mind. Some might be surprised to learn that the fashion industry is also one of the top five polluting industries in the world.

Staff Spotlight: Ann Burke

About a month into her new role as C-SED’s Socially Engaged Designer and Facilitator, Ann Burke spoke with storyteller Malin Andersson about what brought her to C-SED as well as what she looks forward to in the future.

The Planet Optimist: Staying Positively Informed

Kartik and Dev became the Planet Optimist, a weekly newsletter dedicated to sharing climate action news that is business-focused and, quite radically for this day and age, optimistic.

Staff Spotlight: Claudia Cameratti-Baeza

Claudia Cameratti-Baeza, the new Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, sat down with storyteller Sydney Moore to talk about her role at C-SED and what she is looking forward to this year.

FUSE: Providing a Financial Orientation to Refugees

While refugees have access to technical resources like English language training and cultural training, they do not receive any financial orientation. Like SNAP beneficiaries, asylum seekers and refugees desperately need a modernized process - FUSE could be that electronic, modern system, in any language refugees speak.

One Student’s Journey to C-SED’s Front Door

As a first-generation college student Ally Sierra, C-SED’s Design Consultant, has found her own way through both her undergraduate and graduate experiences without the generational knowledge most other students are prepared with.

Aquaducks: One Year Later

Recently, I caught up with co-founder Vanessa Woolley almost a year after I first learned about the Aquaducks’ Quality Water & Contamination Control device (QWACC) aimed to treat wastewater and overflows. 

Sea-Spider: The Future of Ocean Cleanup

Almost half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating island of trash twice the size of Texas, is made up of discarded fishing gear. This gear, called ghost fishing nets, strangle marine life and block sun from contributing to the underwater ecosystem - an ecosystem responsible for at least half of the world’s oxygen and all sea-life.

Designing Access: One Year Later

We recently sat down with the Designing Access team to talk about what they’ve been up to since participating in Innovation in Action (IiA) 2021.

Staff Spotlight: Ann Verhey-Henke

Ann is the Strategic Director for the Center for Socially Engaged Design.

The 2022 Final IiA Showcase

On Friday, April 8th, the C-SED community gathered to showcase and celebrate 19 student teams that made it to the end of the 9th annual design competition: Innovation in Action.

Staff Spotlight: Tallie Ritter

Tallie Ritter is the Program Manager of Data Analytics and Educational Technologies for the Center for Socially Engaged Design.

Looking Back at My Summer Studio Experience

Ally Sierra, C-SED's Design Consultant and superuser, speaks on her experience as a Summer Studio intern last summer.

BlueLab EASE: Socially Engaged Design in Practice

Sara Groenke, C-SED’s Program Assistant, also serves as the project lead for BlueLab EASE - an independent student project team that works closely with C-SED.

Innovation in Action’s Most Popular Challenges

Check out our students' most popular passion areas, from sustainability to social justice, and hear in their own words how they chose their challenge.
Lawryn Fraley headshot

Staff Spotlight: Lawryn Fraley

Lawryn Fraley is the Student Affairs Program Coordinator for the Center for Socially Engaged Design.

Staff Spotlight: Charlie Michaels

Charlie Michaels is the Director for Experiential Learning at the Center for Socially Engaged Design and a Lecturer in Undergraduate Education.

Staff Spotlight: Robin Kocher

Robin Kocher is the Administrative Assistant for C-SED and a User Experience Research and Design Masters student in the University of Michigan School of Information.

Staff Spotlight: Erin Moore

Erin Moore is the Associate Director of Engagement Strategy for Center for Socially Engaged Design, leading outreach and engagement efforts with students across the center’s programs and initiatives.

Graduate Facilitator Spotlight: Robert Loweth

Robert Loweth has been a Graduate Facilitator with the Center for Socially Engaged Design since the program began in 2018.

Facilitator Spotlight: Kelley Dugan

Kelley Dugan is a Graduate Facilitator for the Center for Socially Engaged Design and Mechanical Engineering PhD Candidate.

Student Staff Spotlight: Ally Sierra

Student Staff Spotlight: Ally Sierra, Design Consultant, M.S.I. '22 in User Experience Design and Research and B.A. in Communication and Media

Affiliate Spotlight: Ryan Henyard

Ryan Henyard believes that a better world is possible, and he’s doing his best to make that belief a reality.

Innovation in Action – Frequently Asked Questions

Innovation in Action (IiA) at the University of Michigan is a campus-wide program giving groups the opportunity, the tools, the people, and the room to take on the world’s biggest challenges.

How the C-SED Lab is creating an inclusive makerspace

Nestled on the third floor of the GG Brown Building, the C-SED lab greets you with glass walls and a collection of various tools. It is open to anyone willing to learn, as the intention behind its design was to foster inclusivity.

FooDEI: Making Room for Equity at the Dinner Table

Dr. Helda Morales from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur believes that “every bite we take is a political act.” Ayana Curran-Howes, Catherine Lumanauw, Deena Etter, and Hannah Cary of team FooDEI could not agree more. Food and its history are tied to inequity, discrimination, and injustice. With this in mind, the act of eating is indeed political, though we might not realize it.

Brassi: Oatmeal with a Hidden Veggie

Growing up, people preached the importance of breakfast. Yet, most people’s worst eating habits revolve around breakfast. Many opt for skipping the meal altogether or grabbing over processed bars, mumbling the excuse that they don’t have time to make anything else.

Visionary Central: Where The Community Grows

In Ghana, 53% of the population is twenty-four years or younger. The majority of this demographic does’t have access to the opportunities they need to scale their businesses and participate in entrepreneurship. If productivity is to increase, it’s crucial that decent work and economic growth are supported. 

Designing Access: A Toolkit for Inclusion

The Designing Access team-Sofie Aaron, Amy Belfer, Callie Torkelson, Hannah Lefton, and Flavio Di Stefano-used it to set the stage for their project: a toolkit for inclusion consisting of a website and printable pdf.

Aquaducks: Improving Water Quality, Together

When Vanessa Woolley asked her roommate Rosalia Otaduy-Ramirez if she wanted to work on a project focused on water quality and sustainability, Rosalia enthusiastically said yes.

ClassBop: Student to Teacher Feedback Made Simple

Underfunded public education and teachers who struggle to find the time needed to meet their students' needs. These are not new problems, and the virtual environment has only exacerbated them. It is harder to know how students are really doing from behind a screen. That’s why ClassBop was created by Roni, Raeed, Edward, and Cindy.

EquiHome: Sharing the Load and Sharing the Love

EquiHome, the First Place winner of 2021’s Innovation in Action Showcase, was born out of the urgency to make real change. Currently, 2.25 million families are without childcare and women are three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for household needs.

LifeLink: Making Aging More Accessible

What if all it took to create affordable housing, or a more united university community, was intergenerational living? Aunrika Tucker-Shabazz, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, believes it is the solution.

City Slickers: Mobilizing Resources

The City Slickers are flipping the script on accessibility and mobility. Emily Manetz, an undergraduate in the College of Engineering describes their mission as “bringing the resources to people instead of bringing people to resources.”

General Intelligences: Making Common Sense More Common for All

General Intelligences — created by Magda Wojtara, Gyanesh Mishra and Eric Moreno — is a non-profit, peer-to-peer based coalition that targets the "hidden curriculum" of adult life skills and social capital, fundamental means to success. The organization is focused on empowering those ages 17–26 from disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds.

Plucky Comics: Introducing New Superheroes to the Classroom

Nathan Alston, Daniella Gennaro, and Onyekachi Ezirike all know what it’s like to not see themselves represented in traditional curriculum. Growing up, they experienced the impact of this lack of representation, and in response they created “Plucky Comics” to bring visibility to Black Queer stories in the classroom. 

Facilitator Spotlight: Matt Pirone

Facilitator Spotlight: Matt Pirone, Project Development Coordinator and Facilitator, M.S. in Design Science and M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering

IiA 2021 & Envisioning an Anti-Racist World: Team Features

Student teams from across the University of Michigan worked for several months to imagine a future world--and a future campus-- that is anti-racist and developed solutions through C-SED's Innovation in Action program.

BLUElab India Project Helps with Giving Blue Day

Hi! We’re BLUElab India Project (BLIP), a multidisciplinary team of students dedicated to co-designing sustainable technology to address community identified needs centered on fostering social equity. Over the past couple years, we have worked closely with C-SED to develop our skills in socially engaged design in order to create strong community partnerships and empower the people that we work with. 

Book Club’s Next Chapter: “All We Can Save”

I stumbled upon C-SED through book club. A short post in a newsletter caught my attention, “In what ways do design methodologies promote inequality? What are others in our field doing to address injustice? How might we leverage our own work toward justice?” 

Innovation in Action…is Running Virtually!

We are excited to apply our own design process to this year’s program and re-design IiA to meet students where they are: online!

Introduction to Socially Engaged Design: C-SED Goes Virtual

19 students from five schools and colleges spent the week learning the basics of the socially engaged design process through the lens of the challenge question, “How might we support the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area to uncover needs and address challenges that the ripple effects of COVID-10 will have on small businesses?” 

INNOVATION IN ACTION: 2020 Final Showcase

On the morning of a typical Innovation in Action Final Showcase, you can find a familiar scene: teams of students nervously checking their microphones and rehearsing their pitches; judges from all over the country readying their score sheets; and staff members double-checking each detail to make sure every team has the chance to showcase five months of hard work.

September Design Jams Recap

"Design a way to increase beachgoers’ awareness and understanding of the dangers of the Great Lakes while encouraging the safe enjoyment of their beaches and shoreline."

Innovation in Action Team Feature: Reproactive

ReproActive is focused on solving communication and education issues related to sexual and reproductive health for adolescents and young adults. Knowing this a highly stigmatized topic, ReproActive aims to deliver unique tools to relevant stakeholders, adolescents, young adults, healthcare providers, and parents.

Summer Studio 2019: Unraveling the Challenges of Public Sector Services in Southeast Michigan

Public sector services in Southeast Michigan, such as water, food, energy, and mobility, are inhibited from effectively providing services to their communities because of aging and siloed infrastructure, and are in need of innovative solutions. Could smart, distributed technologies be a part of sustainable and equitable solutions for public sector service’s most pressing problems?

ENGR X55: Finding Genuine Design Opportunities 2019

4 projects across 3 countries — working with partners to prioritize design challenges.

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