Scientists from all walks of life will likely be familiar with the concept of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. I believe these two phrases can be considered synonyms for research. I started this week with a set of known unknowns; research avenues to pursue given where I thought I could gain information to aid the development of the wheelchair seat prescription device I mentioned in my last post. By the end of this week, after travelling through link after link online and receiving a ton of leads from discussions with hospital staff, this project has gained more facets than it started with. It turns out there are far more unknown unknowns than known unknowns in this project!
It’s now been two weeks and they’ve flown past! While by no means an expert, I can safely say I understand the issue of youth unemployment in much more depth now. Over the past week, I have been working on my mini-project which has now been confirmed.
Before comparing projects, it is important to finalise the criteria that will be used; they vary widely and can often be hard to measure. Prior to my involvement in the project, the team had created an Excel spreadsheet which brought the criteria together from different research papers. For my mini-project, I am going through these papers again and contextualising the criteria; this involves summarising the paper, focusing on the challenges faced by India in particular, and creating a model which can be used to compare projects.
For the past week, my work has been based around obtaining sponsorship, big and small, for general operation and the annual dinner.
As London Tigers is a sports-based charity, I made a list of companies that were sports or fitness related and had some kind of donation request form on their websites or accepted sponsorship proposals. The sports based organisations included brands such as Umbro, Lucozade and Nike to name a few. For these companies, the application was relatively shorter with more simple online forms asking whether we were asking for cash or product, what it was going to be used for and how the company would benefit.
After a couple of weeks here at CDP I thought it was about time to give a summary of the work done by CDP and what I’ve been up to since the start of July.
CDP (previously known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) are a global environmental non-profit organisation, whose goal is to increase transparency of environmental effects of companies and change the behaviours of companies for the better in three key areas: Carbon emissions, Water usage and Deforestation. CDP do this by asking companies to perform self assessments and disclose emissions and usage data by responding to CDP’s annual questionnaires on Water, Climate Change and Deforestation. During my internship I am working in the Water team, a small core team of 4 permanent staff where the focus currently is the production of this years ‘Global Water Report’, which summarises the results of the water questionnaire companies have responded to.
It is often the case with many a soap opera episode that the opening story leads on to a bigger issue that takes up the remaining time of the episode before reaching resolution at the end.
My Charity Insights project, much like many a research project, is beginning to resemble such an episode. The problems with current wheelchairs as identified at the outset have swiftly revealed a deeply related and possibly more fundamental issue with wheelchairs. The seat, the undeniably most important wheelchair component, is fundamentally flawed.
It’s a problem rehabilitation hospitals and companies alike have been trying to solve for decades. How do you design a seat that is applicable to the widest spectrum of users?
“Socio-economic equality through the education of underprivileged children” – This is the grand aim of Asha for Education, my host charity for the Insights scheme this summer. It has over 66 offices worldwide, running more than 300 projects in India to help improve the literacy levels of the poorest in society. The majority of the international ‘chapters’, as they are called, are responsible for fundraising. However as part of my internship, I am involved with the project analytics side of things.
With over 300 projects, some are bound to under-perform. On the other hand, there will be lots of projects that achieve their aims and make a difference in society.
Pitch Side Banners
In June 2014, London Tigers Sports Complex was opened – a £2.2m state of the art facility which offers training, sports, youth, intergenerational and community facilities. As the centre of all of London Tigers’ sporting activities, it is home to:
- 2 tennis courts
- 2 cricket pitches
- 3 lane cricket nets
- 11-a-side artificial grass football pitch
- Athletics running track
The park sees over 600 people pass through the complex daily and during summer it sees up to 1000 people per day. One of the ways in which the organisation could make use of these facilities and generate an additional income, is by displaying banners on the pitch side which local businesses could advertise on. The sports complex facilities are available for hire so this location is great for attracting not only pedestrians passing through to Southall Broadway, but visitors from across London.
If you’re reading this as a fellow engineer, I have a challenge for you. Strike up a debate with a doctor about which of your two professions is best, and I guarantee you that the doctor will rebut with the indisputable repost: ‘the human body is the ultimate engineering’. Try and counter that one!
This is exactly the realm I entered upon starting my first day at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability for my Charity Insights placement this summer. I received several slightly surprised looks as I introduced myself not as a medical student eager to delve into the world of neuroscience, but as a student of mechanical engineering with no inclination to becoming a doctor.