Routes: Creating a Path That Closes The Tech Divide

A tech-based service that aims to connect young, rural students with professional and technical mentors who have access to emerging technology including virtual reality, 3D printing, coding skills and other STEM resources. 

Team Members: Shawn Harris, Vikas Luthra
Support: Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Neha Kumar
Date Completed: May 2017
Presentaion: Georgia Tech Ideas To Serve

Literature Research

The use of technology and its emerging applications have led to incredible advancements in the way American societies function. Despite this growth, large portions of the population are being left out, with those in rural areas of the united states the least likely to have access to emerging technologies. This lack of equity has led to low levels of technical literacy and may be contributing to growing polarizations between rural and urban communities. To gain these insights, we looked at work being produces by popular medial outlets as well as community organizations focused on career development and the development or rural communities. 


Expert Interviews

To gain a deeper understanding of tech literacy and its use in rural communities, we spoke to several experts. These included (1) Aditya, a researcher a Georgia Institute of Technology well versed in the applications of technology in rural Georgia, (2) Carolyn, an elected official and small town figure from rural Minnesota, and (3) Ellen, an administrator and professor from Georgia institute of Technology with an emphasis in community engagement. 



Stakeholder Mapping

Following the analysis of our research, we did a stakeholder identification map to see who were the major players we needed to consider moving forward. We did this by separating the users into a primary, secondary and tertiary user groups related to our key stakeholder, the high school student. 


Research Insights


Final Design

The final solution is a web and app based social platform that connects rural youth who don’t have easy access to emerging digital technologies with those who are part of their communities and want to give back by sharing their knowledge about these technologies. We called this platform Routes. It will offer rural learners (1) the ability to discover digital technologies in and outside their community, (2) Physical and digital access to people who have expertise in using these technologies and (3) An opportunity to connect with mentors from their own communities.


User Personas




System Use Case

Jessica receives tech mentorship after creating a profile  (2) Bob and Jessica Bond over an interest in VR (3) Abby and Jessica Bond over a shared hometown (4) Abby and Bob are able to connect with other mentors

App User Experience

During the on boarding process, user will select the Learners or mentor option. Then, they specify their hometown and a  technology they are interested in. The  system will then analyze the data to suggest potential nearby learners and mentors.   Finally, they will have the option to review the matches profile and begin messaging. 


User Feedback