My name is Indrayud Biswas Mandal enrolled in Masters’ Degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the Systems Design and Management program. During Summer 2020, I worked on the “Technology for the Visually Impaired” project with the Ek Kadam Aur (EKA) Foundation, in conjunction with MISTI-India. The aim was to research on economically feasible assistive technologies and apps, that could be used by visually challenged students and bring them on the same par as others.
With the prevalence of technology in daily lives as well as the spike in technology related jobs, it is essential to provide these students with the skills, which can ease their transition from education to a professional environment.
As the lead on the Technology project, I guided the team on the necessary reports. This helped the team to conduct stakeholder interviews and come up with collated presentation for the Board of Directors (BoD).
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, we had to move validation work on the efficacy of selected technologies to Fall ’2020 semester. My contributions during Summer 2020 consisted of reviewing, evaluating and selecting 3-5 technologies for detailed analysis from 50 technological solutions.
I spent Summer 2020, trying to understand the challenges that the students and the instructors have, along with the pain points, whose addressal would have the greatest impact. My learnings from systems design, management and technology road mapping has helped me in developing my report, which is also presented to the BoD.
Working with EKA Foundation was an invaluable experience especially in understanding the problem statement from a grassroots level. I have personally faced challenges due to severe myopia. However, these only lasted till I got new glasses. Understanding the challenges that these students and their instructors face on a daily basis, has been an eye-opener for me.
My work with EKA Foundation on a weekly basis included – literature review of studies, research on available technologies, interview multiple stakeholder groups, curation of report and participate in weekly interns and project meetings.
Presently, I am working on my masters’ thesis with Dr. Kyle Keane on circular economies for tactile devices (from 3-D prints for education to the Taction Tablet). I am also continuing my collaboration with EKA Foundation to generate value networks for both parties.