Alex Levy, a sophomore in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and Sam Schreiber, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, won the 2023 edition of the Intelligence++ design competition, held on April 21 in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.View the Photo Essay
Runners-up were the teams of Carolyn Fernandes ’23 and Cassia Soodak ’25; Chase Coleman ’27 (InclusiveU), Domenic Gallo ’23, and Bella Young ’23; and Kate Allyn ’26 (InclusiveU), Jillian Castle ’25 (InclusiveU), and Wyatt Gillespie ’23.
Optimal Assessment, Levy’s and Schreiber’s winning design, is a course planning application that takes instructors through steps that encourage them to think about the different ways they can facilitate learning and assessment, helping them design courses that meet the individual learning styles of students, guided by data.
A collaboration among Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse Libraries, the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) School of Design, and Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, Intelligence++ is an interdisciplinary initiative focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, design, and community. The project is available to both undergraduate and graduate students across the University, including students with intellectual disability from InclusiveU, a Taishoff Center program.
The 2023 competition was judged by Erik Geizer, CEO, The Arc New York; Chris Kennedy McKelvy, Founder, K Ventures, Vice Chair, Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, and former Head of Partnerships, Oculus VR; and Matthew Van Ryn, Founder, Law Office of Matthew Van Ryn PLLC, and Business Counselor, New York State Small Business Development Center. Program donor Gianfranco Zaccai ’70, H’09, was on hand to offer teams advice about intelligent, inclusive innovation by design.
Also providing comments were Professor Don Carr, Program Coordinator, MFA in Design and Industrial and Interaction Design, VPA; Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Founder, Blackstone LaunchPad; Alex McKelvie, Interim Dean, Whitman School; Professor Beth Myers, Executive Director, Taishoff Center; and David Seaman, Dean, SU Libraries, and Interim Dean, School of Information Studies.
The competition’s showrunner was Ben Ford ’23, a previous Intelligence++ winner and Founder of Fundwurx, an all-in-one platform to automate and streamline corporate social responsibility efforts.
Intelligence++ Competition 2023 Inclusive Designs & Teams
Zhengrong Chai, Yajie Lan ’23, Jonathon Rossi ’23, and Noah Soliman ’26
An AI-powered app that addresses social challenges faced by individuals, particularly neurodivergent students, in large community contexts. It provides personalized recommendations for activities and friends based on the user’s interests and personality.
Wear-it Fidgit Cuff-it
Carolyn Fernandes ’23 and Cassia Soodak ’25
A collection of fidget devices for neurodivergent people working in professional environments, designed to provide stimulation for the hands. The discrete fidgets are attached to a cuff, hidden by fabric matching the sleeve.
Alex Levy ’24 and Sam Schreiber ’25
A course planning application that takes instructors through steps that encourage them to think about the different ways they can facilitate learning and assessment, potentially helping them design courses that meet individual learning styles of students, guided by data.
Riley Blumenthal ’23, Wyatt Gillespie ’23, and Jessica Mitchell ’23
A small enclosure which combats the effects of sensory processing disorder. This product aims to serve as a space for children who are overwhelmed, agitated, or upset.
Chase Coleman ’27 (InclusiveU), Domenic Gallo ’23, and Bella Young ’23
A design research project that explores the implementation of emerging technologies into Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools. The research aims to create generalized translation tools for people who rely on nonverbal speech methods to allow for seamless adaptation to verbal conversation.
Ryan Brouchoud ’25 and Adya Parida ’25
AI-powered adaptive learning software to support children with disabilities. This software offers personalized learning experiences based on individual needs and abilities, while incorporating multiple teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles.
Kate Allyn ’26 (InclusiveU), Jillian Castle ’25 (InclusiveU), and Wyatt Gillespie ’23
Sensory-friendly clothing that promotes comfort and well-being for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder. The Sense Hoodie is designed with the four primary drivers of SPD discomfort in mind: auditory, tactile, visual, and proprioceptive.
Never Sew Alone
Kate Allyn (InclusiveU), Christina Alicia May, and Vineet Narayan ’25 (InclusiveU)
A non-profit that empowers individuals to create their own vision of art through textiles. Through a series of creative workshops, neurodivergent community members are guided through projects that merge artistic expression with the development of skills such as sewing, embroidery, quilting, and similar crafts.
To learn more about Intelligence++, visit disabilityinclusioncenter.syr.edu/projects/intelligence.