TOM:UCI Makeathon Set to Harness Cutting-Edge Technology to Design Affordable Solutions for People with Disabilities


(Irvine, CA, April 25, 2017)  Professional, amateur, and student engineers, designers and innovators will gather at the UC Irvine’s Institute for Design and Manufacturing Innovation in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering this weekend, April 28-30, for TOM:UCI, a three-day technology marathon where participants will work with local people with disabilities to develop solutions for everyday challenges.  The goal of the event is to provide affordable solutions to neglected challenges for widespread use by making original, open-source designs available online.

TOM:UCI is the newest TOM:Tikkun Olam Makers community – a global movement of makers, technology developers, and innovators who seek to solve neglected challenges of people living with disabilities worldwide. UCI’s makeathon, one of the first to take place on a US college campus, is a student-driven initiative, led by UCI sophomore Elisa Tran and senior Tin Hong, with a team of student and community volunteers.

The Makeathon will take place in specially designed workspaces on campus and will feature advanced technology including 3D printers, laser-cutting machines, and CNC machines. Five teams of “Makers” will have 56 hours to create working prototypes for their challenges.

The closing event will take place at UCI’s Samueli School of Engineering on Sunday, April 30th at 5:00 pm, where the five TOM:UCI teams will showcase their prototypes to the community.

Why TOM?

With 1.1 billion people living with disabilities around the world, there are an astronomical number of neglected challenges hindering independence and inclusion. Unfortunately, the market is failing people with disabilities and valuable solutions are not being developed or do not reach users at affordable prices.  The goal of the TOM Movement is to harness the power of individuals to help individuals.  Teams of “Makers” work to create products for specific challenges, brought to the attention of TOM organizers by individuals with disabilities, or those who care for and/or work with them.  The movement hopes to impact 250 million people within 10 years.  TOM is an initiative of Tel Aviv-based Reut Group.

“We are so excited to bring TOM to our campus,” said TOM:UCI Student Leader Elisa Tran.  “TOM is about working with people, improving quality of life, creating solutions and building relationships.  People underestimate their ability to help others, but TOM is an excellent way of empowering people to really make a difference in the lives of others.”

Tran learned about TOM in July 2016 during a mission to Israel and a visit to TOM’s Tel Aviv headquarters.  A sophomore studying business, Tran said that TOM resonated strongly with her because her mother became disabled in 2008 and struggles with many every day challenges.  She submitted one of the five TOM:UCI challenges on behalf of her mother, Kelly, who will attend the makeathon with the team working on her solution.

“The Institute for Design and Manufacturing Innovation  (IDMI) is thrilled to host this event. We’re very proud of the fact that the equipment in our Institute will be used to create products that will help deserving people in our community,” said Lorenzo Valdevit, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the IDMI.  “The student leaders have been fantastic! It’s an honor to partner with these creative student innovators.”

“TOM:UCI is mobilizing local talent and resources in Orange County to help local people that face neglected challenges that have no market or government solution,” said Gidi Grinstein, President of the Reut Group.   “By creating specific and extremely affordable open-source solutions to a specific problem, and then making it globally available, every team can help tens of thousands of other users worldwide, supporting a global network of communities collectively working together to improve the lives of millions of people living with disabilities.”

The Challenges

Earlier this month, more than 40 “Makers” met at the Irvine office of TOM:UCI corporate sponsor Johnson & Johnson for a “preTOM,” where they divided themselves into five teams and received their challenges from their “Need Knowers.”  The Makers and Need Knowers have spent the past three weeks meeting, discussing the specific challenges, and brainstorming ideas for customized solutions.  The teams will come together at the Makeathon to create their products using the equipment at IDMI.

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