Al Sigl

The Coolest News(letter)

The Coolest News(letter)

I don't know about you but I'm sick of watching the snow fall outside of my office window. I cling to the thought that Spring is just around the corner- March and warmer weather will be upon us soon enough!

Powerful Solutions at RIT's IdeaLab

by Crystal R. Mendoza Paulin

The students, mentors, and coaches that participated in RIT's 2016 Fall IdeaLab. 

The students, mentors, and coaches that participated in RIT's 2016 Fall IdeaLab. 

Twice a year the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) holds a intensive problem solving workshop known as IdeaLab. Students, alumni, professors, and community experts volunteer their time for the weekend to brainstorm and present solutions to unique problems assigned by community organizations. As part of RIT's dedication to effective access technology, the IdeaLabs typically focus on healthcare and the medical industry.

This year the Fall IdeaLab partnered with Al Sigl Community of Agencies. The local non-profit presented eight unique problems for the students to consider. The students and coaches then split into eight teams to spend the rest of the weekend working on one of those eight problems.

Team 7 members from left to right: Brad Dunn (design mentor), Mark Brown (student), Crystal Mendoza Paulin (engineering mentor), Gerald Garavuso (team coach), Jiameng Huang (student), Gopika Nair (student), Peggy Fortune (Al Sigl mentor).

Team 7 members from left to right: Brad Dunn (design mentor), Mark Brown (student), Crystal Mendoza Paulin (engineering mentor), Gerald Garavuso (team coach), Jiameng Huang (student), Gopika Nair (student), Peggy Fortune (Al Sigl mentor).

Brad and I lent our design and engineering expertise to the room at large but spent the majority of our time with Team 7. The team was tasked with creating a physical stabilizing system for individuals that use communication devices. This problem was pitched by Al Sigl's member agency, Rochester Hearing and Speech Center. Several neurological disorders that impair speech also impair fine motor movement so the team needed to build a system that could stabilize a user's hand and fingers to produce easy and reliable typing.

Of course, one weekend is not enough time to completely solve these complex problems. However, the hard work and creativity of the teams often produce viable results. Some teams even continue working on the projects after the weekend is over and turn in completed products to the organizations that need them.

IdeaLab is always an interesting and inspiring weekend. RIT was the first to institute a program of this size and magnitude and now the "IdeaLab method" is being propagated throughout other colleges and universities in the United States. I've participated for years and never fail to volunteer at each session. IdeaLab is free and open to the public and I sincerely encourage all of you to observe a session. There's nothing quite like watching the best and brightest work together to create solutions for people with special needs and abilities. And it's all for the betterment of our society.

For more information on RIT's Fall IdeaLab, visit here.

Big Fun at Al Sigl's WalkAbout

by Crystal R. Mendoza Paulin

Winners of the annual costume contest wait to receive their awards.  Photos courtesy of Jolana Babacek Photography and Al Sigl.

Winners of the annual costume contest wait to receive their awards. Photos courtesy of Jolana Babacek Photography and Al Sigl.

I am a shameless morning person but my co-founders most definitely are not.  So convincing them to arrive at Eastview Mall by 8:30 am on a Sunday morning was no small feat. It was, however, one that I was more than happy to accomplish. So I dragged them, kicking and screaming, to set up our table.

Kurtis Kracke (left) and Brad Dunn (right), tired but present at the Thermapparel table for WalkAbout.

Kurtis Kracke (left) and Brad Dunn (right), tired but present at the Thermapparel table for WalkAbout.

WalkAbout is an event that is very close to my heart. Each year Al Sigl hosts the walk at Eastview Mall to raise money for it's member agencies. Most importantly, however, WalkAbout is a celebration of the abilities of the children serviced by Al Sigl's member agencies. 

I had the wonderful privilege last year to volunteer for WalkAbout and fell in love with the charming children and their ingenious costumes.

Costume contest participants wait to hear results from the judges. 

Costume contest participants wait to hear results from the judges. 

This year Al Sigl was kind enough to offer us a table to showcase UnderCool. We have partnered with Al Sigl since our inception and it is always rewarding to demonstrate our products and progress to the communities that need our cooling solutions the most. We learn so much from the thoughts and impressions of our local experts (hint: that's you!).

Crystal R. Mendoza Paulin at Thermapparel's table talking about UnderCool to a walker.

Crystal R. Mendoza Paulin at Thermapparel's table talking about UnderCool to a walker.

By the end of the event, even Brad and Kurtis perked up (the free coffee certainly helped). We all had so much fun at the event and cannot wait for next year!

For more information on WalkAbout, visit here.