In its fifth year, Fast Company’s prestigious World Changing Ideas awards program recognizes the products, concepts, companies, policies and designs innovating for the good of society and the planet. This year, it selected both the UIC Simulation Lab and Jamaa Birth Village as honorable mention finalists.
The full list of winners is now live on Fast Company’s website. Below is a closer look at both award-winning projects.
UIC Surgical Innovation and Training Lab (SITL)
The SITL supercharges simulation and surgical education by creating a space that will imagine, experiment and help create the surgical rooms of the future and allow surgeons to train with the latest in robotic and minimally invasive surgical tools.
UIC challenged our design team to create a space that allows for education using today’s latest technologies and also includes a space for new ways of thinking, experimentation, research, collaboration and discoveries. It is one of the only training spaces existing today that aims to advance medicine and surgery in unknown or harrowing terrains. The ability to test out surgical procedures in untested environments—outer space, (a space shuttle, the International Space Station, Mars) the desert, a life raft—is a core piece of the SITL and how the institution hopes to push the future of surgery and its practitioners forward.
The space used the flexibility of theater design as inspiration. Theater stages are designed with behind-the-scenes storage spaces for quick set and costume changes. The centerpieces of the SITL are the Innovation Lab, which connects a traditional surgical space and an experimentation research garage known as the Surgical Innovation Garage. Storage spaces allow for adaptability and flexibility—equipment can move in and out to create different modes of use. It is also meant to pioneer the future “surgineer,” the future surgeon being a clinician as well as a computer scientist and a medical technology engineer and inventor.
Jamaa Birth Village
While headlines about high infant mortality rates and lack of maternal care for Black women continue to mount, there is little momentum toward creating tangible change and resources for this population.
In Ferguson, Mo., Tru Kellman wanted to create a space where women of color provided midwife and doula services—currently a predominantly white industry—that were accessible and affordable to her community. Tru, the first black Certified Professional Midwife in the state of Missouri, created Jamaa Birth Village in 2015, a nonprofit that offers these services to Ferguson and other St. Louis-area communities.
Ultimately, our team helped Tru and Jamaa renovate a former doctor’s office donated to the organization into its new Equal Access Midwifery Clinic. The space allows Jamaa, which means family in Swahili, to expand its services, including pre- and post-natal care, access to mental health services, a community garden, custom childbirth and nutrition classes, doula care and more. Clients can choose their pregnancy and birthing experience, an option that Black women have long been denied. Jamaa also provides midwife and doula training to empower more women of color to enter the profession. Since Jamaa’s creation in 2015, Tru has won several grants to support her work, and her organization has gained recognition on a national level.