The exact origin of #MotivationMonday is obscure, but its relevance is clear. Social media is replete with inspiring platitudes aimed at helping us face the new week. In searching for our own Monday motivators, we decided to dig a little deeper. These stories illustrate the potential of technology for improving lives, society and the planet.
Doing More with Little
Do you ever tell yourself you’d succeed if only you had the right resources? Rebecca Richards-Kortum, one of the latest recipients of the MacArthur Foundation’s genius grants, inspires students to solve medical problems in the developing world where the simplest resources are scarce. As a professor of bioengineering and co-founder of Rice University’s Beyond Traditional Borders training program, she challenges students to invent devices that save lives while running on little electricity and using readily available materials. For example, a device to help premature babies breathe uses aquarium pumps.
Persistence and Drive
Jordyn Castor was born blind, but somehow that never stopped her from using the computers at school – or fiddling with them at home. According to Mashable, she quickly learned to code. She realized that she could use her tech skills to help other people with disabilities. As a Michigan State college student, she attended a job fair and snagged an internship with Apple. Her passion for accessibility fit well with Apple’s own strategy of making accessibility features standard. Now, as a member of the accessibility design and quality team, she helps Apple bake in the ability for blind people to take advantage of all its products right out of the box.
Designing Away Physical Limitations
In 1982, Hugh Herr lost both his legs due to frostbite following a mountain-climbing accident. He decided to use technology to “bridge the gap between human limitation and human potential.” He began by designing prosthetic legs for himself that were adjustable and had a variety of “feet” that gave him greater prowess at rock climbing than his natural feet had. Herr founded MIT’s Center for Extreme Bionics which has provided more than 1,000 people who have double leg amputations with bionic limbs that let them run, climb and even dance. His TED Talk lays out his vision of a human right to live without disability.
Wearables to Give Doctors Insight
Based on brief patient visits every three weeks, oncologists must make decisions about whether treatments are working and their impact on patients’ quality of life. Researchers at the University of Southern California demonstrated Analytical Technologies to Objectively Measure Human Performance (ATOM-HP), a combination of wearable device and smartphone app that lets doctors analyze their patients’ days in bed, activities and overall health. The collected data can lead to better treatment decisions, better survival rates, and better understanding between physician and patient, according to Science Daily.
Step Up Now
Three years before her book, Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg brought her ideas about women in the workplace to TED Talks. Her advice applies to all shy nerds, male or female: no one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side instead of at the table, and no one gets the promotion if they don’t think they deserve success. Listen to this, and then go tell your manager why you’re awesome.
Spirit of Engineering
Finally, Barry Belmont, an engineering researcher focused on medical applications who is now scientific advisor to the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, created a video montage that inspires with brilliant images of scientific and engineering achievements. This one will make you want to change the world.
So, happy Monday. Let’s go out there and crush it.