The recipients of the inaugural Urban Technology Prototype Grants have different foci with a common connection: the belief that technology can improve life for people who live and work in cities. That’s exactly the idea behind the program, which announced in fall 2021 that it was seeking proposals for experimental software and hardware projects that offer new ways to engage with, think about, and push the limits of self-governance within communities and collectives, privacy in public space, and/or feedback loops within the built environment.
“Prototype Grant winning projects ask: how can automated data collection improve environmental justice? How can individuals have more control over their personal data and its use? How might children be invited to create their dream cities? Collectively these show the direction of research and thinking we are pursuing in the urban technology program at Taubman College,” said Bryan Boyer, director of the Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology program and assistant professor of practice in architecture.
The grants connect early-career professionals with Taubman College’s resources and expertise to support exciting, early-stage research. Each grantee is paired with a Taubman College faculty mentor and is receiving $5,000 in project funds and a $1,000 travel allowance for the semester-long grant. They will share the results of their work through a public event in the spring.
The three winners were selected from 30 applicants by a jury comprised of practitioners in the field of urban technology: Joshua Edmonds (director of digital inclusion, City of Detroit), Gabriella Gómez-Mont (founder and director, Experimentalista), Roy Liu (managing director and co-founder, Hercules Capital Inc.), and Michelle Ha Tucker (head of design, Sidewalk Labs).
The grant program is the latest example of Taubman College’s leadership in the burgeoning field of urban technology. Taubman College launched a new Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology that welcomed its first cohort of students in January 2022, and the college is piloting several experiments to provoke discussion, debate, and experimentation in the field. In addition, the University of Michigan is a leading center of research on cities, sustainability, digital fabrication, and new materials — all of which contribute to the emerging field of urban technology.
Read about the 2022 Urban Technology Prototype Grant winners.