BIC Brings Branding and Storytelling to Assistive Technology

11/27/2019 Unknown 0 Comments

Last Fall, CCNY launched the Campus Engagement Network (CEN), an initiative funded by the Moxie Foundation to develop new approaches to teaching, research and advocacy missions. This competitive program provided support to create new courses, integrate change-making values into CCNY's interdisciplinary work, and embed these transformative principles into the fabric of CCNY education and culture.

As part of CEN's inaugural cohort, BIC Professor Gerardo Blumenkrantz joined forces with Professor Zhigang Zhu of Computer Science to create a multi-departmental senior design course for undergraduate seniors that incorporates BIC know-how. CCNY's Grove School of Engineering (GSOE) will work with BICsters as well as the Zahn Innovation Center to push assistive technology to a new level. This cross-campus collaboration has a common theme for all three parties – GSOE, BIC and Zahn: to promote social good.

Over the course of a year, GSOE students majoring in Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CpE), and Electrical Engineering (EE) will explore and develop assistive technologies for smart living with a focus on people in need. The first semester provides technical lectures on basic technologies in sensors, actuators, robotic navigation, vision algorithms, and assistive technologies. During the second semester, student teams are expected to implement design ideas, prototype, test, and evaluate different designs, and produce final design prototypes.

Students also have the opportunity to perform usability studies with real users, including those who are visually impaired in collaboration with Lighthouse Guild and NYS Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) and those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in collaboration with Goodwill Industries in Greater New York and Northern New Jersey via the NYSID’s CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive Technology) program. This allows students to better understand consumer needs to improve the designs and create more appropriate business plans. Prominent teams with innovative ideas/technologies and solid business plans are recommended to compete for CCNY Zahn Center Entrepreneurship Competitions, NYSID CREATE Awards and VentureWell E-TEAM Competition.

In addition to cross-disciplinary science and engineering education, students will further "up their game" with two innovative components: branding training through BIC and entrepreneurship guidance from The Zahn Center.

Faculty and students in the Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) master's program will educate and assist GSOE senior design students to appreciate the importance of branding: how to successfully communicate with users, investors, stakeholders and community partners to really make their breakthrough work actionable through storytelling development. The branding component will be closely integrated into the technological and the entrepreneurial components.

BICsters interested in participating should please contact Professor Gerardo Blumenkrantz at or Computer Science Professor Zhigang Zhu at for more information.