Siobhan Gregory and Gary Shields accepted into the Ford Technology for Social Impact Accelerator

Siobhan Gregory, Associate Professor of Teaching in Industrial Design, and Gary Shields, Associate Professor of Teaching in Management, have both been accepted into the Ford Technology for Social Impact Accelerator.

Wayne State University was one of ten universities nationwide that was invited to compete. The team will consist of seven volunteer students from the Ilitch School, who will work with Deeply Rooted Produce, a local community organization, to create a mobile food delivery project through the end of the 2024 winter semester. The winning teams will earn $20–25K for their community organization, and all participants will earn a HFLI Level II certification in design thinking from the Henry Ford Learning Institute as part of this competition, along with $15,000 in scholarship money.

Deeply Rooted Produce helps Detroit's east side develop effective and efficient mobile grocery stores and farms to provide fresh produce in Detroit’s food deserts. The organization was founded by Dazmonique Carr, a Wayne State alum. This partnership aims to provide Deeply Rooted Produce the knowledge and skills from students and faculty and residents of the city will have better access to high quality, fresh, locally grown produce through this collaborative project. 

“We think that an important component of social mobility is beginning with a healthy community, and that includes healthy eating,” explains Shields. “Having access to healthy, fresh foods is a known challenge for many people in urban environments, and not just in Detroit. We are hoping to help create an environment where healthy foods are more readily available to members of our Detroit community so that they can be more mobile socially, just as WSU tries to provide an educational environment that promotes social mobility through education.” 

Students will learn skills that specifically align with what local businesses and global corporations see as in-demand future-of-work readiness skills and mindsets, gain valuable insight into project development, and have a real-world experience developing actionable social impact solutions to address a community-centered challenge that aligns to industry standards. 

“I'm excited that WSU was chosen to be one of ten universities nationwide to compete in this challenge because it will give our students the chance to develop new skills that they can use in the classroom and in the workplace,” adds Shields. “These skills in design thinking and practice will be new to the students from the business school that are on the team, and, I think, a great way for the students in industrial design to apply the design concepts they are learning in the classroom to a real world need in our community.”  


-Jannet Hurtado-Blanco

View all news stories