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Social Sciences Gateway

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Phone: 713-348-2181
Fax: 713-348-5161
Email: alex.wyatt@rice.edu

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Social Sciences Applied Innovation Lab

Students in the Applied Innovation Lab learn the elements of problem solving in the business environment. Project teams interact with businesses or non-profit organizations seeking creative solutions to challenges they face. This three-credit semester long course offers experiential learning on all project phases from investigation and analysis through presentation of recommendations design to meet real-world needs. Special registration required, all majors are encouraged to apply!


Contact Alex Wyatt, Assistant Director of Gateway, at alex.wyatt@rice.edu with any questions.

Click here to complete the SSAIL Interest Form (student participants)

Click here to complete the SSAIL Project Proposal Form (organization participants)

Projects - Fall 2016

The Pangea Network –

Organization: The Pangea Network (TPN) is a Woodlands, TX based non-profit focusing on the education and empowerment of women and children in Kenya. They are primed for significant growth, especially in their Women’s Network, and have a proven system focused on maintaining constructive relationships with their graduates.  

Project: The Pangea Network has compiled a 160 page Kenyan Women’s Network Training Manual which encompasses all the standard training modules included in the curriculum for Kenyan women. As the program expands to include additional training modules and new staff members, the manual needs to be revised to account for this expected expansion. 

The World Affairs Council of Greater Houston – 

Organization:  The World Affairs Council of Greater Houston, an educational non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on teaching global competency and cultural understanding to middle school and high school students, as well as teachers, in the Houston area.

Project: WACH is now seeking help in determining fundraising best practices for their organization. Within the scope of this project, the team’s goal is to find the target audience, recommend methods for collecting and tracking information on donors, and help develop the most efficient fundraising strategies.

High School for the Performing & Visual Arts and Friends –

Organization: HSPVA Friends is the main fundraising organization for the top ranked High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. 

Project: HSPVA Friends has requested the student team to help leverage its upcoming move to a new campus in downtown Houston. They want to utilize the current emphasis on corporate social responsibility to bring in greater funding for school programs, as costs continue to increase with a larger facility and maintenance of premier arts equipment. Specifically, HSPVA Friends is looking to develop relationships with local companies to bring in greater sponsorships, develop corporate sponsorship packages, and increase ticket sales for performances.

East Harris County Manufacturing Association –

Organization: Founded in 1987, ECHMA is dedicated to promoting the health, safety, security, environmental, and economic well-being of the petrochemical, refining and manufacturing industry in East Harris County in Texas.

 Project: ECHMA is focused on the eminent problem of a shortage of qualified and certified workers in the petrochemical and construction industries. Business leaders and employers in Houston's petrochemical and construction industry sectors warn that there will be a severe shortage of skilled and qualified works that will threaten the region's success and competitiveness.



Projects - Spring 2016

Christus Health & Firestarter –

Organization: Christus Health’s mission is to be a leader in advocating the health and wellness solutions of underprivileged populations in Houston. Firestarter is a corporate responsibility non-profit.

Project: The student team will research best practices in overcoming barriers to health outcomes, and recommend most effective means of communicating healthcare plan options to these populations.

Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services – 

Organization: HCPHES promotes healthy and safe communities in the Houston area through research and education.

 Project: The student team will examine existing urban health policies, identify opportunities at the federal, state, and local level to include health into the decision making process, and determine the best approach for Harris County on how to institutionalize health assessment.

HE Butts Family Foundation –

Organization: The HEB Family Foundation seeks to create opportunities for transformative life experiences at every stage of life. Their current focus is on health through outside activity.

Project: The student team will create a measurement of the families who have participated in their camp programming in order to advise on best allocation of resources for the coming summer term.

Houston Urban Debate League –

Organization: Houston Urban Debate League is a non-profit dedicated to reintroducing academic debate programs in Houston-area public schools. Project: The student team will design and conduct a participant survey and recommend changes to improve student participation outcomes.

Houston Museum District Association Members –

Organization: Museum District Association comprises the 18 museum within a 1.5 mile radius of Mecom Fountain and is charged with promoting visits to those museums. Project: The student team will research the viability of merging the healthcare plans of all 18 members and recommend a course of action.

 Projects - Fall 2015

Community Health Choice

Community Health Choice (Community) is a non-profit organization located in Houston who provides local underserved populations with health insurance plans covered under the Affordable Care Act such as Medicare or CHIP. As such, the CHC Team will focus on three main components: first, analyzing the most common reasons for Emergency Department (ED) visits; Second, using a gap analysis to compare different industry approaches to preventative care; Third, assessing Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) using a SWOT analysis, and researching ways in which its strengths can be applied elsewhere. The goal is to provide Community with a set of recommendations that will reduce inappropriate ED visits, and thus reduce their related expenditures.



Our team is aiming to revise the customer service effectiveness of a mobility technology company. Currently, the company is struggling to repair customers’ wheelchairs in a timely fashion, due to complications such as multiple visits, physician prescription obtainment, and HIPAA compliance. We plan to assess the problem in more depth through interviews and surveys with customers and repair technicians. When we have further defined the problem, we will take the project in one of two directions. We will either focus on creating or discovering a HIPAA-compliant digital platform that customers can use to interact with technicians, thus speeding up repair time, or we will choose to take a systemic approach to reorganizing the repair system. Ultimately, we hope that the company’s customers will more easily receive assistance and the process of customer service and repair will become as efficient and productive as possible.

Turkish Airlines

We will use our skills in market research and data analytics to bring the two strong elements together and engage in a successful procurement project. Working simultaneously on reaching out to travel management companies, whose business relies on being the intermediary between large corporations and airlines, and examining the least costly and most feasible routes for Turkish Airlines through complex methods of data analytics, we hope that we will be able to build a competitive marketing strategy for Turkish Airlines.


World Affairs Council - Houston

The client is World Affairs Council of Houston, an educational non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on teaching global competency and cultural understanding to middle school and high school students, as well as teachers, in the Houston area. In working with them, we will focus on quantifying their impact, developing a stronger relationship with their students, and proposing strategies to strengthen and expand their fundraising efforts. In doing so, we will provide them with a student database, grant analysis and recommendations, grant template, quantitative strategy and metrics, and a marketing strategy.