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Making Together: Crossing Borders and Connecting Communities

Photos: Adriel Olmos
Photos: Adriel Olmos

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute is highlighting the CITRIS Invention Lab’s collaboration with the INNOVaction GYM maker space at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, a multi-campus university based in Monterrey, Mexico. As part of the program, sixteen Tec de Monterrey students visited CITRIS at UC Berkeley in spring 2019.

The visit began with a chair-building icebreaker. Chris Myers, Senior Manager at the CITRIS Invention Lab, wanted to see how well students from the Invention Lab and Tec de Monterrey could work together and communicate ideas. Participating Tec de Monterrey students brought digital files of chair designs and gave them to Invention Lab students for prototyping. They saw their designs turn into a 3D object in the CITRIS Invention Lab

“It was a really good project—much more complex and time-consuming than we thought it would be—but in the end, I think it was worth it. To see the collaboration at the end, the results, the feedback was very gratifying,” says Myers.

The Tec de Monterrey students also brought a “tactile design pen project” built for infants with visual impairment. Patterns made by the pen would be repeatable so that users can explore, discover, and understand their movements. Since students in the CITRIS Invention Lab had been working on teaching aids for visually impaired and underserved populations, this project was especially relevant. Myers would like to see designs like these for social good made available in open source, to get them into as many hands as possible.

As for the visit, Myers hopes that both groups learned important insights by the end of their shared experience. 

“[I hope they take away] that for any problem they can think of, any solution to a problem they can imagine, they can create a physical answer. While our equipment here may be different, the students were able to explore ideas and figure out innovative ways to do this physical prototyping,” says Myers, “We’re in our own little bubble here, and this experience really helps expand our thoughts as well as theirs. They were able to take some very basic materials and use it in a unique way to demonstrate their ideas.”

CITRIS offers special thanks to Cristina G. Reynaga-Peña at Tec de Monterrey’s School of Humanities and Education, for her efforts to make this collaboration possible.

More information about the Making Together program can be found here

Photos: Adriel Olmos

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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