PKG IAP Fellows: IAP 2021

Photo: Fellowships

We are pleased to announce and congratulate our IAP 2021 PKG Fellows! Read about their work below and keep an eye out on the PKG blog for updates over IAP.

Awele Uwagwu, Chemical Engineering (MIT ‘21)

Over IAP, Awele will be working with solar installers in Lagos, Nigeria to develop a platform that will increase the adoption of efficient solar energy systems. The platform he is building will allow installers of solar energy systems to design faster and more efficiently, by taking into consideration weather data to avoid oversizing or undersizing the systems. Awele and solar installers believe that the platform will go a long way in simplifying the design process, improving sales through the creation of custom reports that will be generated with each design while simultaneously reducing the technical barrier to entry for people interested in the space.                           

Felix Chavez, Business Analytics (MIT ‘21)

During IAP, Felix will be continuing his work with the Majira Project – a non-profit accelerator for startups and small businesses led by founders of color and/or serving underserved communities. Felix and the Majira Project have outlined 4 mini projects for him to tackle in that time. These include: gathering feedback from the current internship program and structuring one for this upcoming summer, continuing to work on Majira’s website development, creating templates and content to prepare for a social media push and increase in online presence, and doing pitch deck work and social media planning for the Browning the Green Space initiative, another of ventures of Felix’s manager and MIT alum, Kerry. All this will help two great initiatives grow their audience and impact on underserved communities, particularly entrepreneurs.

Max Williamson, Computer Science (MIT ‘22)

Max plans on developing, teaching, and installing a preparatory computer science curriculum within a GED program at the West End Neighborhood House in Wilmington, DE. His hope is that upon graduation the students will immediately apply to ZipCode Wilmington, one of the east coast’s premier “coding bootcamps”. In a matter of months, ZipCode consistently turns young, low-earning individuals without college degrees into competent software engineers that take jobs at top companies upon graduation.

Rucha Kelkar, Brain & Cognitive Science, Pre-med (MIT ‘22)

Over IAP, Rucha will be continuing her relationship with Learning Seeds, a social benefit company located in the Boston area. As a fellow, Rucha will be wrapping up her existing project of developing and launching a freely accessible online MOOC for parents and educators involving tips for developing positive interactions with children, as well as habit formation techniques to help sustain those tips. Additionally, Rucha will be starting on a new project which looks at identifying linguistic markers in common speech patterns during various settings of peer play, with the eventual goal of training an AI machine to do the same. Aside from encoding (de-identified) transcripts of play sessions and identifying these linguistic markers, she will also encode existing Learning Seeds sessions to identify common practices between Learning Seeds and external educators. These comparisons will inform the development of future tips that can be easily generalized to practitioners across the globe.   

Adam Swartzbaugh, Sloan School of Management, MBA (G)

Over IAP Adam will be working on Almond Finance, a mobile financial inclusion platform for entrepreneurs in developing regions.  Almond aims to provide critical economic opportunities to small business owners through access to digital commerce, payments and lending in Southeast Asia.  The next milestone is a pilot project to be carried out in Myanmar.  Over January Adam will be managing the overarching business strategy, partner engagements, and go-to-market activities as Adam and Yunus prepare for a launch in early 2021.

Andrea Diaz, Masters in Engineering and Management, MIT IDM (G)

Over IAP, Andrea will be working with several community partners in Colombia to define the next functionalities to be implemented in her app, Nonni, the first super app for the senior citizen. Nonni wants to make technology more inclusive to the elderly and non-digital natives through the first super app designed for the senior citizen. She seeks to dignify aging and to create inclusiveness in technology in the least developed countries. 

Anisha Gade, Ph.D. Student, DUSP (G)

Anisha’s dissertation involves understanding differing logics regarding urban development among community organizations versus among real estate developers. During IAP, she will be assisting Calle 24, a cultural preservation organization in the Mission District of San Francisco. Calle 24 fights to preserve and advocate for the Latino cultural presence amidst gentrification and displacement in the Mission by celebrating the District’s intangible cultural heritage through unique cultural events, foods, businesses, activities, art and music of the neighborhood. Working with Calle 24’s Business Liaison, she will be applying for “Legacy Business” designation for several dozen local small businesses. This designation will allow these businesses and their respective property owners to access the city’s Historic Preservation Trust Fund as well as other financing and negotiation options in order to flexibly cope with rising rents.

Azury Lin, Integrated Design & Management, MIT IDM (G)

Azury will work with re+connect to develop civic tech solutions to close the last-mile gaps in disaster relief and build long-term resilience for underserved communities in Puerto Rico. The solution currently under development is a suite of mobile and desktop applications that support disaster missions with four functions: 1.) Mobilize residents to participate, 2.) Assess localized data points, 3.) Coordinate with the aid of machine intelligence, and 4.) Provide reports to demonstrate impacts of the work. In order to meet the goal of launching the major information platform next year, Azury plans to strategize product development effort and to design and test solutions in low and high fidelity prototypes through virtual workshops with users, partners and stakeholders over IAP.

Bridget Burns, Ph.D. Student, DUSP (G)

Bridget will work on a qualitative research study that will interview health care providers and staff who worked in isolation centers throughout greater Boston, or who contracted services to these isolation centers, during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. The purpose of the study is to understand the processes that isolation centers that were developed in early 2020 employed to provide safe isolation spaces for people to recover from COVID-19.  This study will also capture the experiences of health care providers providing patient care in these facilities.

Catalina Monsalve Rodriguez, Computer Science (MIT ‘23)

During IAP Catalina will be working with MIT’s Environmental Solution Initiative and Corpoamazonia in their project to develop prevention and warning systems to landslides in Mocoa, Colombia. Her role will be to assist in the machine learning component of the project, while collaborating in the design and implementation of a workshop of the technical concepts to different stakeholders and communities in the area. 

Leandro Schlottchauer, Sloan School of Management, MBA (G)

Over IAP, Leandro will be working on primary market research for my social startup Amanda. Amanda is a social commerce platform that enables anyone in Brazil to start their own business by reselling products online through WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. During his project, he will be partnering with MigraFlix, a local NGO/social enterprise, to conduct interviews with local clothing manufacturers in Brazil to onboard them later into Amanda’s marketplace.

Maria Lucia Morelli, Master in City Planning, DUSP (G) 

Maria will work on one of Geochicas’ initiatives, Calles Violetas, collaborating on their work on perception of violence against women in Mexico City. She will design an online survey, digitalizing the methodology they have developed, to understand the characteristics of the built environment which correspond to women feeling insecure and uncomfortable. Prior to the Fellowship Maria and Geochicas will openly distribute the surveys in Mexico City. During the three weeks of work Maria will analyze the recollected data and write conclusions and recommendations on this project. 

Maya Murad, Masters in Engineering and Management, MIT IDM (G)

Over IAP, Maya will be helping Impact Lebanon define and formally launch its social incubator. Maya has been supporting this NGO for several months and has already set up the strategy and fund allocation of the $8M Beirut Disaster Relief fund. The last few months underlined the importance to redesign and ramp up its social incubator model to leverage distributed talent across the diaspora to bring impact to Lebanon. This organizational set-up is quite unique and she will be aiming to document the design and implementation learnings to benefit other grassroots initiatives.

Melissa Q. Teng, Masters in City Planning, DUSP (G)

Melissa will be working on an archival project about memory and justice in Argentina. The project centers around previously unseen footage of daily life in Bahía Blanca from approx. 1973-5, prior to a civic-military coup installing a dictatorship in 1976. Over IAP, Melissa will work with a local team of filmmakers and community members to contextualize the archival footage using stories and other metadata, which will shape a future interactive documentary.

Osamu Kumasaka, Environmental Planning & Policy, Masters in City Planning, DUSP (G)

For his project, Osamu will be working with a group in De Soto, MO, called Citizens’ Committee for Flood Relief. Osamu and Citizens’ Committee for Flood Relief will be conducting a community survey and interview process with residents who have been impacted multiple times in the past by flash flooding. His research findings will help the Citizens’ Committee work with the city government to create a local flood mitigation plan and apply for federal funding to support people who want to relocate to new homes. 

Ruthy Gourevitch, Masters in City Planning, DUSP (G)

Over IAP, Ruth will be collaborating with the Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester, NY to co-produce a short documentary about housing segregation and affordable housing development in my hometown, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Ruth and Jacob Burns Film Center will work together to hone a narrative arc for the documentary that can catalyze action-oriented conversations about housing justice and racial inclusion in this region, and develop a dissemination plan to ensure that key audiences and educators can use the film as a tool for change when it is released this spring.

Sebastian Sandoval-Olascoaga, Ph.D. Student, DUSP (G)

Research on economic-mobility highlights the impact of structural racism on well-being. Less is known about the roots and implications that gentrification has on historically and structurally discriminated disinvested neighborhoods. Gentrification is not new in Boston, and, historically, it has long-affected minority communities. Given that the people most impacted by gentrification have unique insights and are in the best position to solve it, Sebastian got involved with CLF to understand what matters the most for the socio-economic development in Boston’s disinvested neighborhoods. In conversations with CLF and the communities, Sebastian and CLF found two things. First, they confirmed how gentrification acts as a significant stressor. Second, they identified house flipping as a potential catalyzer of it. The process of gentrification is complex, and research has highlighted the importance of historical conditions on starting it. In 1932, the HOLC classified neighborhoods based on race to provide financial assistance. The lowest-rated neighborhoods (mostly Black communities) were drawn in red. By bringing together novel datasets and causal empirical methods, Sebastian will focus on answering, (a) what are the spatial and temporal patterns of house flipping in Boston?, and (b) could structural racism explain gentrification’s pathways through an increase in the likelihood of a house being flipped?

Yunus Sevimli, Sloan School of Management, MBA (G)

Yunus will continue to work on Almond Finance, a mobile financial inclusion platform to empower entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. Adam and Yunus aim to equip small business owners and farmers in Myanmar with the essential financial and economic tools to find new customers, expand their businesses and transact digitally. The features Almond Finance will provide include a digital marketplace, mobile transactions and microloans, all of which is accessible on an intuitive mobile app. During IAP, Yunus will be overseeing the final stages of the product development and user testing efforts for the mobile app, as Adam and Yunus gear up for launch in spring 2021. 

Interested in PKG Fellowships? Visit our Fellowships webpage to learn more about future opportunities, summer 2021 dates and deadlines, and application guidelines!

Tags: Fellowships IAP 2021, PKG Fellowships

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