Social Justice Clinic

In 2018, the college launched a program to support two Social Justice Clinics each year to provide technical support to community-based organizations working in areas including educational, environmental, economic and social justice. The projects listed below show the range of organizations students have supported with technical assistance through a two-semester Clinic project.

2021-2022

HMC Equity in Policing Fairness

Project Abstract: In this project we aim to use mathematical and computational modeling to identify factors influencing the distribution of arrests in the Los Angeles region. To accomplish this goal, we are creating agent based simulations of police activity and arrest patterns. We plan to vary the probability of arrest and the police-agent path parameters in order to generate different arrest distributions. We will compare our model outputs to recent LAPD arrest data with the aim of identifying factors that contribute to LA’s arrest distributions. These factors will include demographic data along with police-agent patrol patterns. We anticipate this comparison will lead to a better understanding of LAPD arrests and correlating factors that we can use in related future work.

Expanding Enrollment with a Guided School Matchmaking Tool

Sponsor: Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Project Abstract: The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest public school district in the country, offering an incredible variety of programs. However, for parents and guardians, the process of learning more about potential school choices for their child(ren) can feel overwhelming. The aim of this project is to make the process easier by creating a guided school matchmaking tool to assist LAUSD website users in planning a successful educational pathway for every student.

Mapping the Disparate Effects of California’s Prop 13

Sponsor: TechEquity Collaborative

Project Abstract: California loses an estimated $8-12 billion in property tax revenue every year due to Proposition 13, a 1978 law that limits annual property tax increases for unsold property. Our team has built an interactive map that uses machine learning predictions and individual case studies to visualize property tax disparities across commercial properties in Los Angeles County. Our sponsor, TechEquity, hopes to use this map as a resource for the general public to increase awareness of the impacts of Proposition 13.

2020–2021

Arctic Ice Project Deployment Method Investigation

Sponsor: Arctic Ice Project (also Global project)

Project Abstract: Arctic Ice Project is a nonprofit seeking to preserve and restore the Arctic through safe and effective albedo modification techniques. The team has developed a particle simulation model to assess the viability of a ship-based blower-driven deployment of albedo modifying hollow glass microspheres (HGMs) utilizing natural weather patterns for distribution. Additionally, the team compiled information on the material properties of HGMs to determine ideal transportation methods.

HMC Achieving Net Zero Emissions Through Infrastructure Decision-Making

Sponsor: Harvey Mudd College

Project Abstract: To help HMC become a leader in sustainability and fulfill its environmental commitments, the Net Zero clinic team catalogued sources of greenhouse gas emissions arising from on-campus consumption of electricity and natural gas. While considering the financial needs of the College, we developed a time-sensitive and environmentally impactful plan to facilitate a transition to renewable energy. We identified strategies for developing off-site projects in Southern California and locations for on-campus renewable generation to swiftly bring HMC to net zero emissions.

Improving Equity and Efficiency in Career Technical Education Funding Decisions

Sponsor: Los Angeles Unified School District

Project Abstract: Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are career-centered, sequenced courses in fields like engineering, arts, media, and medicine. There are two inefficiencies in LAUSD’s current funding allocation process for CTE programs: (1) it can distribute funding inequitably, and (2) its application review process is overly time-consuming. We aim to address these problems by revising the current funding application and introducing a data-driven process for determining how funding is allocated.

Data-Driven Anomaly Detection for Rural Solar-PV Systems

Sponsor: Mee Panyar (also Global project)

Project Abstract: Mee Panyar is a start-up social enterprise in Myanmar that is pioneering community-based management models for operating and maintaining rural solar mini-grids. Modern mini-grid installations include a suite of sensors that may be monitored in real-time. However, rural technicians rarely oversee such monitoring, increasing the chance of system failure. The HMC Clinic Team has designed a suite of statistical and machine learning models that will be used to identify anomalous behavior and flag components for maintenance operations.

Foot Measuring and Shoe Ordering Challenge

Sponsor: Shoes That Fit

Project Abstract: Shoes That Fit tackles one of the most visible signs of poverty by giving children in need new athletic shoes to attend school. The team designed a user-friendly measurement metric, foot measurement device, and data collection system for STF to help manage their company workflow. While maintaining flexibility, the solution implements automation, appraisals, and accuracy to help STF improve and grow. By utilizing the unique measurement and prediction techniques, the team aims to remove excess costs to the process.

Community Air Quality Monitoring and Analysis

Sponsor: South Gate CEHAT

Project Abstract: We are collaborating with the Community Environmental Health Action Team (CEHAT) of South Gate, CA to create an air quality website and analyze air quality data. The website will be accessible to non-technical audiences in both English and Spanish. Our work will be used to inform the CEHAT, regulators, and South Gate residents about local air quality.

2019–2020

Visualizing the Effects on California of a Global Climate Restoration Strategy

Sponsor: Arctic Ice Project (formerly Ice911)

Project Abstract: Anthropogenic global warming is altering the Earth’s climate; the polar ice caps have shrunk, and the loss of reflective ice is accelerating global warming. Ice911 Research has developed a climate restoration technology that increases sea ice reflectivity, potentially slowing global warming. Ice911 Research has produced high-quality simulations of this intervention which are data rich but difficult to distill into graphics and conclusions understandable by decision makers. The Ice911 Clinic Team is using this data to provide clear and concise illustrations of regional and global climate impacts of this intervention.

Food Waste Analysis Through a Handheld Scanner App

Sponsor:  Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

Project Abstract:  The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank alleviates hunger by feeding more than 300,000 food insecure people every month. Our project’s goal is to reduce the amount of food waste generated from their donations, allowing them to feed more people. After researching their intake process and identifying sources of information loss, we created reports and an app that document the contents of donations, helping the L.A. Food Bank decrease their food waste.

Addressing the Effects of Traffic on Air Quality at Claremont High School

Sponsor:  Sustainable Claremont

Project Abstract:  Sustainable Claremont, a local non-profit organization, is concerned about the health of children who are exposed to vehicle emissions and air pollution during school drop-off and pick-up times. The team measured the air quality at Claremont High School with air sensors, mathematically modeled the potential effects of traffic, and worked alongside the students to initiate healthier commuting behavior and raise awareness of environmental issues.

2018–2019

Fresno Air Quality Monitoring and Mapping

Sponsor:  Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce

Project Abstract: Fresno is one of the most polluted and underserved communities in California. The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce is partnering with local organizations and the Transform Fresno Climate Communities Collaborative to clean the air in downtown, Chinatown and southwest Fresno with new infrastructure. Our Clinic team is implementing low-cost sensors throughout the area, visualizing the fine particulate pollutant concentration and publishing our findings so the community can understand where problem areas still exist and how infrastructure is changing their air.

Local Factory Startup for Low Cost Solar Panels

Sponsor:  Locally Grown Power

Project Abstract:  Locally Grown Power (LGP) is a start-up creating replicable, non-profit solar panel factories. The pilot factory will open in Pomona, California, and aims to promote economic and environmental change by installing 6,000 solar systems on low- to midlevel-income households. The team is tasked to design a world-class solar panel factory by producing an optimal plant layout, outlining detailed workstations, and determining specific machines, tools and equipment.

Automating an Engine to Extract Educational Priorities for Workforce City Innovation

Sponsor:  PilotCity

Project Abstract:  Our Clinic team was tasked with developing software and algorithms to automate PilotCity programming. Our solutions involve creating web interfaces with which teachers, students and employers involved in the PilotCity Program can engage as well as designing recommender systems that facilitate the process of matching employers to high school classrooms. Additionally, we are using topic modeling to extract educational priorities from community college and high school syllabi in order to inform work-based learning community partnerships.