Thursday, May 25, 2006

Week 1: Mission Statement, Users, and More

We had our first online meeting today, and it lasted almost 3 hours. Needless to say, he had a lot to talk about.

First off, here's a brief list of what we have accomplished since last time.

* Contacted several organizations which have done matchmaking in a similar way before (Global Village Engineers, GeekCorps, VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and a few others) and we have received messages back from several. We have set up meetings with Idealist and Global Village Engineers

* Constructed lists of engineers and Non-profit organization representatives that our team members know. We are in the process of contacting them. If you have any ideas on people (or organizations) to contact, please let us know.

* Identified what each of us thought the mission of this project is.

We hosted our meeting using Campfire ( and the technology worked fine. At first we had a bit of trouble keeping on track, but after a bit we worked it out and had a very productive meeting.

During the meeting, we discussed what our mission was, problem spaces, and user interviews.

Our Mission:
We all came into the meeting with our own idea of what our mission should be, and we all had a similar goal, with a few different ideas. After more discussion we ended up with:

"We are starting an organization that will help organizations working actively towards the betterment of humankind and the planet get solutions to problems they have discovered but do not have the time, energy, or resources to solve on their own. These problems are ones which can make a positive impact to the operations of the organization, and will be solved by volunteers with the guidance of our organization."

This is by no means, a final version of a mission statement, but it is a start. It is a founding idea. Essentially rather than our primary goal to be education or advocacy, we want our primary goal to be completing projects.

A Problem Space:

We also discussed our problem space. Imagine, if you will, a 3 dimensional set of axes. On one we have Engineer Commitment (ranging from "I'll go to a country for 3 years" all the way down to "I'll check out the site on occasion"). The second axis has Engineer Knowledge, ranging from "I've taken no classes in engineering, but I enjoy technology" to "I could (and have) written the book on engineering. I am great at design, and can accomplish any problem you throw at me." Finall, the third axis has the Support Commitment (which would include the non-profit's commitment) which would range from "I'm going to give you an idea, but that's it" to "I'm going to talk with you for hours each day, am available at a moment's notice, and will pay for people to come out and talk to our users."

We would like to position ourselves to working with non-profits who are fairly committed. This means that they would provide experts who know about the users of a potential solution and would show engineers around the area that they work (and possibly pay for the trip out there, but not necessarily).

At the point, we do not know enough about our user space to identify the engineers we need.

User Interviews:

Chandra has already completed an interview, and provided us with some tips of questions to ask, as well as a list of questions to ask engineers. This will be very helpful when Mel and I go out and continue interviewing users.

As always, we are looking for any ideas you might have, specifically involving people to interview. If you know of someone to interview, or you yourself could be interviewed, please let us know by commenting here, or e-mailing us. We are looking for a variety of engineers (engineering students, professors, young professional engineers, older professional engineers, technical experts, retired engineers, engineers who used to be in industry but changed to a non-technical field, etc.) as well as non-profit organizations that we could contact. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them. We look forward to your feedback


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