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Engineering Social Impact

June 29, 2016

The ScholarJet Team at Husky Startup Challenge. From left to right: Francisco Calderon (CTO), Joseph Alim (COO and Co-Founder), and Tuan Ho (CEO and Co-Founder)

About Me

Joseph Alim is from Brooklyn, NY and is entering his fifth year at Northeastern, pursuing a BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering/Engineering Management alongside the Galante Engineering Business Program. He is currently the co-founder of a startup called ScholarJet and was a project leader in Enabling Engineering this past academic year. His hobbies include rock climbing, cycling, and Muay Thai.

Engineering Social Impact

I believe that the engineering mindset can be applied to solve any problem, but for me in particular, I like solving problems that have a social impact.

It began when I became President of SASE (Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers). I worked to create an enriching environment where young engineers and scientists could grow, both personally and professionally. My ambition continued through my co-op at Instron TERM (Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine) and now at Medtronic, the world's largest standalone medical technology development company.

In between those two co-ops, I joined Enabling Engineering. This organization really allowed me to use my mechanical engineering background to directly make a difference in someone's life. To my (pleasant) surprise, within the second meeting I attended, I had become a project leader, established a team, and was connected to our client.

She is a young girl with athetoid cerebral palsy. For those of you who don't know what this is, it is a type of CP that causes abrupt, involuntary movement of muscles throughout the body. Most people with this condition spend the majority of their time in wheelchairs, so it is critical to exercise whenever possible.

Our team was tasked with the job to create/customize a walking assistant that would allow her to get on her feet and exercise her muscles for an hour a day. For years and years, she experimented with costly other devices, which often caused discomfort, or even pain. We were going to create something to change her life and the Enabling Engineering team was going to help us in any way possible. They provided us with any supplies and tools we needed and even connected us to alumni mentors.

Six months and many drawings later, we were able to develop our first prototype. One brave team member volunteered to jump in our walker and test out our device. It withstood her weight with ease and was seemingly much more comfortable than any of other walkers we saw in the past.

When our team is re-assembled in the Fall, our next steps are to make a few more modifications to guarantee safety and then conduct a real test.

Thank you to my team and the Enabling Engineering team for a great experience. It is truly amazing how we were (for lack of a better word) enabled to do what we did. I recommend anyone who has an interest in design or medical devices to join!

As I am entering my senior year, I am stepping down from my role as project leader. There are many other talented members on my team, who I know will benefit from the experience as much as I did, and see the project through.

I am now taking my passion, energy and skills into ScholarJet, where our team is revolutionizing the education industry.