CDT student Susan Graham returns from Singularity University's Graduate Studies Programme - September 2014
Singularity University was founded by computer scientist, futurist and chief engineer at Google, Ray Kurzweil, along with entrepreneur, Peter Diamandis, who set up the X-Prize competition.
The university is based at the NASA Research Park in Mountain View just south of San Francisco. The base is famous for ‘Hanger 1’, one of the world’s largest free standing structures, which used to house blimps and other airships, and has recently been taken over by Google.
Photo: Hanger 1 at the NASA Research Park, recently taken over by Google.
The mission of the institution is to positively impact 1 billion people in 10 years. This is the challenge given to all the participants. To help address this challenge, the course focuses on nine ‘global grand challenges’: Education; energy; environment; food; health; poverty; security; water; and space.
The GSP course is made up of two parts. The first consists of taught classes, workshops, visits to companies in the bay area, and un-conferences held by participants. During the second half, participants take on different challenges and form teams to tackle them. During the time in Mountain View Susan was able to visit companies including Facebook, Google, Intuitive Surgical (which makes the ‘da Vinci’ Robot for remote surgery), DNA 2.0 (that makes custom DNA sequences), Planet Labs (a company producing nano-satellites cheaply aiming to provide real time mapping of Earth), and Stanford Medical School.
Susan teamed up with three others to form Peared, a lifestyle company for the elderly. The mission of Peared is to use the latest technology combined with timeless design to enable elderly people to age gracefully.
The team won the ‘start-up weekend’ event and then went on to be selected in the final 5 teams, out of 21 teams, to present at the closing ceremony in front of other entrepreneurs, business people in the Bay Area and investors. The team is made up of a biomedical engineer, a businessman, a comedian and a social entrepreneur, together looking to develop new technologies to empower the elderly to live a life of freedom. To see more on the project you can visit their website at www.peared.co.
Photo: ‘Peared’ after winning the ‘Start up Weekend’