Social Impact Internships: Mauricio Barba da Costa (’24)

My name is Mauricio Barba da Costa and I’m a rising sophomore from Delray Beach, Florida, a suburb of Miami. I’m pursuing a major in math with computer science (18C) but I think I might tack 15 or 8 onto that. 

This Summer, I worked for The Underline, one of the biggest urban development projects in South Florida. It’s a 10-mile long linear park that extends from Brickell to Dadeland. 

At The Underline, I worked on several software development projects throughout this internship but the main one I worked on was creating a webapp that served as both a social media platform and service for facilitating users’ use of amenities at the park. With no professional software developers on the team, I had to teach myself a variety of tools to build the site. I learned VueJS, a Javascript framework for building websites, MongoDB, a cloud database service, and cloud computing with Heroku. The site I developed has not yet been deployed publicly.

My internship was very hands off. Many of the projects I worked on were not assigned to me, but I chose to pursue them to learn more about software development and what goes into creating these massive urban development projects.

Parks are hugely beneficial to a community. It acts as a center where members can meet, bringing together the community.  Parks such as The Underline also make land around the park more valuable. This leads to the creation of more jobs and a safer community. I talked to the CEO of The Underline and she shared with me one of the guiding design principles of The Underline–tactical urbanism. This design philosophy includes low-cost, temporary changes to the environment. Examples include “guerilla gardening”, where people plant seeds on land that they don’t have legal rights to utilize such as abandoned sights or private property and “chair bombing”, the act of placing recycled chairs in areas that lack comfortable places to sit. The entire Underline park is in some sense an experiment in tactical urbanism. The park was on unutilized land under an elevated train track. Tactical urbanism creates features that uplift the aestheticism of the surrounding environment or that act as convenient amenities for users.

I really enjoyed working on a project that was at the intersection of urban and software development. I got to learn about interesting aspects about both sides and feel like I made a meaningful contribution on both ends.

Tags: Coding, Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships Summer 2021, Tech for Good, Urban & Rural Planning

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