What started in 2008 as one woman’s vision of using design and building projects to transform communities and improve K-12 education is now changing the lives of exponentially more young students every year.
Project H, founded by designer and builder-turned-teacher Emily Pilloton, is dedicated to exposing youth – particularly young girls – to the world and possibilities of design, engineering and architecture. The nonprofit teaches design iteration, tinkering, applied arts and sciences, and vocational building skills. And, more importantly, it demonstrates to its students how they can individually create significant and sustainable change in their communities and the world.
Over recent years, Project H students have worked on and completed numerous notable projects – including an award-winning 2,000-foot farmers market, a school library, an outdoor classroom, a tiny home and their very own skateboards. The students turn their visions into realities using a combination of analog tools, professional workstations and ISV applications to transform their drawings into digital models and their digital models into real-life objects through 3D printing.
This past summer, the nonprofit had plenty of activities to offer its young engineers and designers. To start, Project H kicked off its next session of Girls Garage, its action-packed camp for young girls, started in 2013.
Throughout the duration of the camp, the girls took on challenging projects for the Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center, a Camp H partner that provides counseling, job placement and housing services for homeless and abused women and their children. Project H’s fearless young builders worked together to master their skills with a speed square, tape measure, chop saw, drill, driver, sander and finishing stain to provide the WDDC with a new bookshelf, mailbox system and built-in desk unit. Campers also participated in various field trips and workshops – including a trip to international design and consulting firm Ideo, where they closed out the week designing backpacks for their partners.
The summer fun continued with Project H’s “Women in Engineering” event, a multi-day series in which middle school girls had the opportunity to listen to the stories of some of the most inspirational women in the engineering field with technical and design backgrounds. The event featured presentations from various women, as well as field trips to businesses with engineering as a major portion of their workflow – such as Autodesk.
To wrap up the summer fun, Project H opened a new space for Girls Garage, the organization’s brand new workspace, and its design and engineering program for young girls. With Girls Garage – a 3,600-square-foot, one-of-a-kind workspace – Project H has doubled its enrollment and can offer its girls space of their very own with a woodshop, metal shop, digital fabrication studio and classroom designed to accommodate numerous programs.
“As a designer and builder, space is very important to me because it implies ownership,” Pilloton said. “We get to make the space our own. I think being able to say to our girls, ‘This is your space and no one else’s,’ is a very powerful thing.”
The first program, launched in September, featured sessions dedicated to intricate metalworking; screen printing to make T-shirts, posters and bags; woodworking; and carpentry. The organization also launched additional programs this fall, including a Community Design/Build class that allowed the girls to connect with a real-world client to design and construct something the client needs.
To power their passion, the Project H team relies on Lenovo Thinkstation P series workstations – such as the ThinkStation P500 with NVIDIA Quadro K2200 and P300 with NVIDIA Quadro K620 – as well as the ThinkPad P50, running the latest Intel Xeon processors. Certified to run ISV applications from Autodesk and Adobe, Lenovo workstations aid Project H students in bringing their design dreams to life by offering 80% faster design time and 70% increase in total class offerings. On top of this, Lenovo workstations allow twice the amount of project output, giving Project H the opportunity to host eight additional technology-based classes per year.
“We work with kids, and kids can destroy things,” Pilloton said. “Lenovo systems have been rugged and reliable, withstanding our students every day.”
Pilloton and her students know Lenovo workstations will effectively power their laser etcher, vinyl cutter and laser printer to take their design ideas from conception to completion. And when it comes to software for their most recent projects, the girls have engaged with Adobe illustrator for laser-etching wood projects, Autodesk 123D, Fusion 360 and SketchUp for 3D creations and more.
Project H continues to touch the lives of numerous young students. Since its founding, the program has enrolled more than 800 students, 92% of whom have gone on to two- or four-year colleges. The girls have completed 24 community design and architecture projects, and 95% of those participating saying they feel more confident in their personal actions, more creative and more confident in their work at school.
As it continues to impact more than 90,000 people in both the U.S. and worldwide, the nonprofit strives to provide young students with opportunities to do incredible things, growing their confidence and skill sets to help them fear less, build more and become the accomplished engineers and designers of tomorrow.
Project H has partnered with Lenovo to be a part of its “ThinkRevolution” customer engagement program, which celebrates Lenovo workstation users who are using Lenovo technology to revolutionize their industries and make a significant impact in their communities and the world. Lenovo will be working with Project H and other “ThinkRevolutionists” across the world and many industries that embody this spirit – helping them to share their unique accomplishments and promote their important missions to create an even larger impact.