A team of Georgia Tech students including Ivan Allen College digital media student Sally Xia won the Toyota Next Generation Mobility Challenge last week. The winning team members secured summer internships at Toyota and the chance for funding to bring their design to life.
The team’s project, Para Pickup, is a service that gives individuals with disabilities safe, affordable, and flexible ways to get home. The team includes Sally Xia, a digital media master's student; Riley Keen and Pranav Nair, industrial design graduate students; and Kris Weng, undergraduate mechanical engineering student.
The Next Generation Mobility Challenge, a national competition organized by Toyota and Net Impact, offers students an opportunity to use design thinking to devise solutions to mobility issues, such as transportation challenges impacting low-income workers and people with disabilities.
“We came up with the idea of Para Pickup after we have identified that the term "flexibility" and "affordability" are the two key words of the service we wanted to create. What is taken for granted for everyone else but not wheelchair users is the problem Para Pickup is trying to solve. Our motivation was simply to change the reality for them and make their lives easier,” Xia said.
As the only team member from the Ivan Allen College, working with students from other disciplines did not pose a challenge for Xia. She had had the opportunity to work in multidisciplinary teams in many of her classes in the School of Literature, Media and Communication.
During the summer, the team will work toward the more advanced implementation plan for Para Pickup in Toyota's Social Innovation Team. They will be mentored by staff from Toyota on maximizing their different skillsets.
“It will require a lot of research and hard work but we are excited to see what the future holds for Para Pickup and will hopefully have a much more complete answer by the end of our internship,” Xia said.
At the conclusion of her summer internship, Xia will return to Atlanta to complete her master’s degree in Digital Media.