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Frugal Innovation Hub


Frugal Innovation Hub

Engaging faculty and students in humanitarian projects through partnerships and programs.

We help the helpers of the world.



These are the kinds of wonderful things our students and faculty are doing in humanitarian technology:
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    Text for a Ride in Uganda

    Professor Silvia Figueira

    When SCU Business major Ty Van Herweg went to Uganda to work with a social enterprise, he noticed there was a problem connecting people in rural areas with the boda drivers that provide transportation on motorcycles. He came back to the US determined to return following graduation to start an UBER-style SMS-based service for rural Ugandans. After hearing that story, Computer Science and Engineering majors Michael Brew and Bryant Larsen offered to build an SMS-based system to connect drivers and riders as their senior project. And they did it! They donated the code, and Ty went back to Uganda with a Fulbright scholarship to start the Wakabi social enterprise.

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    Helping Homeless People

    Professor Silvia Figueira and Professor Natalie Linnell

    It turns out that many homeless people own cellular phones, which surprisingly help them out of poverty. After all, how do you get a job if you do not have a phone? How do employers get in touch with you? Based on this information, Computer Science and Engineering students have been developing apps to enable phones to help homeless people. Simply is an app that was developed to make it easier for older people to use smartphones. StreetConnect is an announcement tool that enables organizations working with homeless people to send them announcements via SMS. Youth StreetConnect, a Yelp-like mobile social network, was developed  to help young homeless women find resources and support.

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    Turn on the lights in Alafiarou, Benin

    Professor Timothy Healy and Professor James Reites

    In December 2015, during their winter break, Electrical Engineering seniors Nicolas Metais and Jacob Leatherberry traveled to Benin to deploy a solar micro grid in a community that had no access to electricity. The students designed the grid and spent their break installing and deploying it. They also implemented a sound economic plan to ensure maintenance and expansion would continue in their absence. When they left Alafiarou, 133 people could turn the lights on and charge their cell phones in their homes for the first time.