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Roddenberry Foundation Renews $100,000 Gift to Hampshire

Hampshire College has received a gift of $100,000 from the Roddenberry Foundation to support student, faculty, and alumni inventions and innovation. This is a renewal of a $100,000 gift first given in 2012, which allows the college to fund a variety of scientific, technological, and design projects intended to benefit society and the greater good. The Roddenberry Foundation is led by Hampshire College alum Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry 92F.

Roxanne Finn, assistant director of the Hampshire College Creativity Center, stated, "We're really excited because of the success we had last year," when the Foundation's gift was used in several ways, including funding Roddenberry Big Impact Grants, Roddenberry Microgrants for Actualization, and the course Getting It Out There: Actualization and Expansion of Work. Led by applied design professor Donna Cohn with alums Katie Coupe 08F and Aaron Cantrell 07F and fabrication consultant Bob Cann, students in Getting It Out There collaborated on market research, planning, and premanufacturing for the first production run of a portable gynecological exam table initially designed by alum Emily Ryan 06F for her Division III (senior) project.

"For students to be able to take part in an advanced design-fabrication class focused on getting a prototype to the next stage was a remarkable opportunity," Finn said. "This allowed us to take a project initiated by students and push its evolution even further."

Roddenberry Big Impact Grants were awarded to Ben Herson 95F for his Youth Urban Media Academy in Dakar and to Aaron Wieler 01F for his structural constructor set intended to replace welding. Wieler's concept, which allows for fabrication of a wide variety of projects in an affordable way, was used in the portable gynecological exam table. It is also being used for a project led by applied design professor Donna Cohn, the development of a hand trike designed for people with disabilities in developing countries.

"These grants led to a lot of collaborative innovations as our grant recipients discovered the intersections of their projects," Finn said. "It's helping solidify the Hampshire community around field testing and prototyping."

Cohn received a $250 Roddenberry Microgrant for Actualization of the trike project, while additional microgrants were awarded to Hanna Claeson 11S, Jennifer Cavanaugh 09F, Benjamin McDaniel 11S, Daniel Boucher 10F, and Zeke Nierenberg 09F.

A committee of Hampshire students, faculty, and staff will evaluate proposed projects for the next round of grants in April 2014. "There will be a focus on design for the greater good, product prototyping, and field testing," said Finn. "Prototype development is not an inexpensive thing. We're really fortunate to have the funding to explore this kind of innovation." For more information, please visit

The Roddenberry Foundation supports and inspires efforts that create and expand new frontiers for the benefit of humanity, and funds innovative solutions to critical global issues in the areas of science and technology, the environment, education and humanitarian advances. For more information, please visit

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