Thursday, January 15, 2015

Creating Long Term Engagement with Outreach



The outreach engagement in service to the community starts with a project:

Institute of Technology, Student Project with JBLM’s Fisher House


Historically, military families traveling to Madigan Army Medical Center at JBLM who wanted to stay at nearby Fisher House had to download, print, and fax, or scan and email necessary information forms to Fisher House for verification before being able to reserve their stay. The process was slow and difficult for families who were often traveling and did not have access to the technology they needed to be able to return the forms quickly. Families can now submit their applications online thanks to a team of UW Tacoma students who built online useable forms and a supporting database for Fisher House.


The project was an assignment in Andrew Fry’s “Managing Technical Teams” course in University of Washington Tacoma’s Institute of Technology calling on students to directly make a contribution to the community utilizing technology.


Though I go into the course with several projects in my back pocket that will meet the requirement of "Making a Contribution to the Community Utilizing Technology" ( a mantra in the class) my initial push is for the student teams to find the projects themselves.  It is an opportunity for them to help an organization they have an affiliation with or support for.  An example is that in college when I acted a a philanthropy officer I worked to raise money for the American Diabetes Association, as my father had the disease.

The most successful teams in the course are usually driven by a project manager(s) who has a personal interest in the success of the effort.

Such was the case for the group of students who gave themselves the team name of Altruistic Technologies.  They have the matching T-shirts to further embrace their identity.  There work on the Fischer House was one of the prime examples of how a student team can make a difference to a non-profit.  The Foundation explains their service such:

Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.
These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fischer Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $235 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation.


At the end of the quarter the team presented the results of their project and announced that two of the students would continue the work through internship.  The next quarter another student on the team took to baton and carried on the work to a ninth month of service.  Today I found out that four students will be next up in created a phase two for the Fischer House as part of their Senior Project.
This all caught the attention of three star General Lanza, who came by yesterday to recognize the great work that these students were part of.  Congrats team Altruistic Technologies Branden Hiatt (Retired Sergeant First Class),  Chi Sennhotz (Army Veteran),  Xiaoju Bin,  Kyle Veldhuizen,  Sung Lee,  Saurabh Singh and Nick Kravchuk
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