Meet Niklaus, Winner of the #NextGenMobility Challenge | Net Impact

Meet Niklaus, Winner of the #NextGenMobility Challenge

 In the Toyota Mobility Challenge, interdisciplinary groups of students use human-centered design processes and insider knowledge from Toyota’s mobility experts to generate solutions that have the potential to make a real world impact.
In the Toyota Mobility Challenge, interdisciplinary groups of students use human-centered design processes and insider knowledge from Toyota’s mobility experts to generate solutions that have the potential to make a real world impact.

Last year, Net Impact and the Toyota Mobility Foundation launched the Next Generation Mobility Challenge for students to generate solutions to some of the leading issues in transportation and mobility. The winning concept was a proposed app called StreetSmart that would work in conjunction with Toyota’s Project BLAID, providing real-time audio alerts on street conditions for people who are visually impaired. The students who proposed the solution spent their summer working with Toyota Mobility Foundation to build out research on their idea. As the summer draws to a close, we spotlight this summer’s interns.


Name: 
Niklaus Sugiri

Education:
Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MSEL) at Babson College
Bachelor of Business Administration (BABA) at University of Washington

How did you hear about the Toyota + Net Impact Next Generation Mobility Challenge?

I heard about it through a campus email newsletter.

What was your experience working with an interdisciplinary group of teammates at the event?

It is arguably the best part about being in the challenge for me personally. While I was fortunate to be grouped with teammates that are bright and hard-working, I do believe that we could not have gotten far in the challenge without relying on each other’s strengths. The synergy created by collaborating with people who think differently from each other is evident in our team.

What specific project are you working on this summer?

In my internship, my job is to support the Toyota Mobility Foundation program manager as an independent consultant. The main project, though, is to use my business background to conduct an extensive analysis on existing disability-related technologies and how it can be improved to better solve mobility issues in the future.

What has been your biggest challenge on the internship so far?

Being asked to offer my expertise on a topic that I was completely clueless about when I first started the internship was difficult initially. Before Toyota, my knowledge about disabilities and its technology solutions were extremely limited. As a result, this lack of background knowledge created a steep learning curve that I had to overcome in the early part of my internship. Thankfully, I was able to overcome this difficulty as I made progress in my research and put all the learnings together.

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience?

More than anything else, this internship experience gave me a valuable perspective. Interacting with the community with disabilities and learning about their daily struggles made me realize how much we take simple things for granted. How many of us are constantly thankful that we can see or walk? We might be reminded from time to time through temporary injuries, but that’s it. This experience is a great reminder that I should always be grateful regardless of the difficulties I encounter.

If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why?

Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs at the same time. If I can dine with my favorite talk show host, the most charismatic leader, and the greatest visionary in my lifetime, how much better can it get? I’m sure I’ll go home feeling more inspired and lighthearted than I could ever be!