Innovating Through Tough Times

USD's Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” — Fred Rogers

In times of trouble, we look to — and are lifted by — helpers. Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, grocery clerks and sanitation crews must have their capes tucked into their uniforms. In this new reality, in a world that has been so greatly altered in the past month, we encourage you to also look to the innovators.

There have been calls from local and state officials for creative solutions, looking to highlight ways that we can innovate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are encouraged by these innovators and we are reminded of some of our incredible USD and Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge alumni who are rising to the challenge. Some of these ventures were already well-suited to meet the needs of this pandemic. Take for example Darroch Medical Solutions, Inc., engineers from 2017 who invented a Bluetooth mobile platform for nurses and doctors to increase efficiency and accuracy of patients under their care.

Or Austin Hirsh and The 2050 Smoothie company, one of the winners of the 2019 Fowler GSIC, which provides shelf-stable, sustainable, natural smoothie packets for increased nutrition. Austin’s 60-second elevator pitch was highlighted at the recent virtual San Diego Angel Conference where more than 200 investors were watching.

And current engineering students and USD finalists among the 2020 Fowler GSIC cohort, Matteo Hernandez ’20 (BS/BA), Charles Bullard ’20 (BS/BA) and Natalia L. Ohanesian ’20 (BA), co-founders of LyfBox, have a first responder medical unit that “accordions out” from a storage container. Clearly, there is more than one way to make a difference and to address the many needs presented by this current crisis.

We can and must innovate. As students transition to online learning and as we transition to deliver our programming in a virtual setting, we will continue to adapt and be flexible. One thing we know for certain, we will get through this and innovations will help us rise to the occasion. — Justin Prugh

Learn more about the 2020 Fowler Global Innovation Challenge, which is going virtual this year.

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