Blog Post #4

  1. Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?

We want our unique design process to integrate with the people living in Almaty.  It has to be a process that is sustainable, and that will promote entrepreneurial growth in Kazakhstan. The process has to be driven by the people’s needs, and our opinion will be complementary.

  1. Identify your three most important stakeholders and list five UNIQUE attributes for each one of them.

The students at KazNu that we are partnering with are definitely one of our most important stakeholders. Their unique attributes include their lifestyle. Since they are students in the city of Almaty, they see what is happening there every day. Their personality is also an important attribute because they are a younger generation so they will see issues differently from some other adults living there. Their opinions are very important because they are the ones living there, so we are trying to improve their lives with our innovation. Where they reside is clearly important because they are in the city of Almaty, but they are also living in dorms which is unique. Their social class is also unique because some of them could be coming from different backgrounds with various family wealth, but now they are all studying to attain their own job and social class.

The citizens of Almaty are other important stakeholders to us. They live in one of the fastest-growing cities (urban) in the southern part of the country. They use a lot of energy throughout the year (interests), especially during hot and cold months. Their motives, to move into Almaty, we can assume was to attain a well-paying job (possibly in manufacturing). Their social class is also important because there are sectors of the city that are much wealthier than others. They also live in an area where they are exposed to a decent amount of air pollution (the climate).

Another stakeholder will be the manufacturer. Depending on if our manufacturer will be in Kazakhstan, or in another country will affect the attributes of this stakeholder. For now, let’s say it is a manufacturer in Kazakhstan. Their interests are a unique attribute because they will mostly be interested in making the most money they can. Their motives are also therefore unique because they might not see the same end game we see; they will only see the product or innovation leave their factory. Their personality traits are also important because they may be set on doing things a certain way, and we may have to convince them otherwise (or vice versa). The benefits sought are also important because again they may have a different goal than us. The market density is important because we will be entering an already busy market.

  1. Identify three ways in which you will validate your project concept, technology, usability, and business model.

Once we have a concept/technology for our project, we will validate it by getting a paper published about it. Through academic papers, we can establish our concepts in a professional manner, and we make sure that we benefit the scientific community through what we will accomplish. To measure our impact, we will collect a lot of data from our product in use in Almaty to have numbers to support its success (or failure). Depending on the product, we can also try to validate it by intelligently translating it to other parts of Kazakhstan (if applicable). To measure that, we can collect data on the effects of that issue before our innovation, and hopefully the improvements on that issue after. When it comes to the final phase (when our product is approved by the public), we will implement a suite of systems and innovations around the product to ensure its long-term establishment.

  1. Give three examples of something very interesting you learned from a friend that was a completely alien concept to you.

Something very interesting I learned, more like observed, from a friend, is how converts from faith to faith can be very critical for their old faith, even though, in some cases, they’ve spent more than 20 years in that faith, fervently defending its concepts and ideologies. Another thing I saw, is the typical experience they go through: the feeling of enlightenment and being saved from a faulty belief. A very important concept someone taught me was using friendships, not only for fun but to grow as a person. You make friends with people that benefit you and you benefit them in some way or another.

Bishoy Youhana

Blog post 3

  1. Top 20 questions team needs to answer to advance the venture forward. Categorize.



  1. What are the best ways of approaching sustainability goals?
  2. Can this project be implemented in other countries?
  3. Is this a long term solution to the problems we are currently facing?
  4. Will this project inspire similar initiatives/be recreated by other people?
  5. Is developing smart technology environmentally detrimental?
  6. How do we make the project sustainable?
  7. Will this project lead to lasting change?


  1. How big is the impact?
  2. Is change even possible without government help?
  3. Are the problems we are addressing a priority?
  4. What issues do they see that need to be solved?
  5. Will our solutions impact their market?
  6. Are we doing just as much harm as good?
  7. Do we have the depth to really make a difference?
  8. Are we inhibiting domestic social entrepreneurship?


  1. What kinds of partners are we looking for?
  2. Will culture halt our progress?
  3. What social barriers will inhibit our project?
  4. How can we affect different kinds of people?
  5. Is there a technology education and access gap?


  1. Develop and Visualize the Theory of Change (Logic Model) for your venture.


  • 2-3 Publications 
    • Smart City Innovations
      • Engineering for Change
    • How smart innovations are integrated in cities
      • Discuss the impact of smart technology on cities 
        • The benefits, possible cons, social acceptance, cultural impacts, etc
        • Longevity of the device (how long does it stay relevant and impactful
    • How smart cities grow and adapt
      • Discuss the interaction between people and technology
        • How it affects daily life, city efficiency, etc
  • 3 practical products/solutions that we plan to test and potentially deploy to impact people in Almaty.


  • Publications allow for expanded outreach
    • More people on board with implementing smart technology in cities brings more awareness to the power and potential these solutions hold
      • Inspires others cities to implement them based on existing statistics that are included in the publications
  • A viable device that will improve human life in Almaty but can be applied generally to other growing cities





  • Develop an (2-3) MVPs (minimum viable product) or solutions to address real issues in Almaty.
  • Identify focus groups to test products on.
    • Record how the product was perceived by the people
  • Gather data to predict the projected impact our products would have.
  • Propose future publication titles
    • How our products were designed and perceived
    • Potential ways to avoid future mistakes and further the cause of the project.
  • Establishing what not to do for future teams.


  • Grow relations with partners in Kazakhstan.
  • Spur entrepreneurial spirit in the market.
  • Establish solutions to address problems. 
  • Improve (established goal)


  1. Develop an M&E plan for your venture.
    1. Clearly list all assumptions
      1. We will be able to go and do fieldwork in Kazakhstan 
      2. Our 2-3 publications will be accepted 
      3. Our product will be well-received 
      4. Our partners at KazNU will be able to help us implement the innovation and make it widespread 
      5. Our product will be implemented and used sustainably
    2. Identify short-term and long-term success metrics
      1. Short term:
        1. Number of journals and papers published/in conferences 
        2. Create prototypes 
      2. Long term: 
        1. Focus on one innovation and create a sustainable product that can be used by all residents in Almaty 
    3. (Optional) identify specific methods to measure the metrics
      1. Number of publications
      2. Number of innovations that are generally accepted by the people in Almaty 

Bishoy Youhana


Blog post #2

Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project.

In Kazakh culture, it is not imperative to arrive on time; however, being more than 30 minutes late will be portrayed as disrespectful. This concept is spread throughout many countries and causes failures in communication between teams, leading to delayed meetings and procedures. Our time in Kazakhstan will be limited and this ideology will waste our time and decrease the impact we leave on the community in Kazakhstan. In some countries, like Egypt and India, independent devices in the streets can be seen as a lucrative object and become a target for theft. Incidents like these would cause sensors planted for data monitoring and collection would be stolen and possibly sold in the black market. It would not be practical to have these items stolen all of the time. In Kazakhstan, the official language is Kazakh; however, the language most spoken by the people in Russian. While Russian was the language of teaching at schools and universities, now it is Kazakh. This will cause a problem since we will be using Kazakh to communicate, but a lot of people will be speaking Russian. All of these issues should be taken into account when implementing a solution or navigating our way to one.

Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least three such situations.

At home (Egypt), we had the theft issue. For example, a few years ago, there were an epidemic of tire theft, cheap and expensive tires were being stolen daily. This issue reflects on how insecure it would be to plant devices on the streets as their faith is predictable. The only way this problem was somewhat resolved was by having police cars roaming the streets all night and putting light sources for rural streets. In Egypt, the culture is very conservative and resistant to change. Introducing a new concept or way of life would be very difficult to implement in the day’s structure; for example, 15 years ago, the idea of converting your car from using gasoline to using natural gas was introduced as a solution to high gasoline prices, and till this day, people are very hesitant to perform this conversion. Reluctance to change is cancer to our smart cities project since the solutions that will be implemented will be new and different, aiming at impact. In our culture, engineering is seen as a profession for men only, so in a graduating class of 200 mechanical engineers, only 7 would be women. This stereotype prevents many women from aspiring to study smart technologies and leaves a significant portion of the population uneducated to the fields of smart technologies. To implement change, a diverse workforce is needed and misconceptions like these prevent us from reaching this desired state. This workforce is crucial to building smart technologies and is very important to the contribution of perspective and ideas.

Give three examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to addressed community/market problems

The sharing and co-operative elements in some cultures can be harvested to manifest a market where ideas are being shared and contributed to by everyone. A common example would be when a mobile phone store opens, another one opens beside it. This way they bring customers to each other and they share ideas with each other. A culture like this one usually has everyone connected with each other, so basically, by knowing a few people, you will probably be able to get to anyone you need. This can be leveraged when we begin to implement our solutions. Implementing them requires a lot of country-related logistics that need locals who work in the proper area of expertise. Another way is data and feedback collection; spreading a survey link would very simple and effective for future improvements in our innovations. Marketing a product or idea can also be done easily since the word is spread effectively. It is definitely more influential to hear about something from someone, rather than watching a commercial or reading a flyer. Also, the youth in such areas tend to be very proactive about improving their conditions and implementing new and smart technologies that reduce the inefficiencies they have every day. All of these advantages can be used to spread information about a product and how to use it, so it is used widely and correctly.


Post by Bishoy Youhana

Why I enrolled to GSIF and solution to the distribution of eyeglasses.

During high school, I was always involved with community service through my church and non-profits and I simply loved it, but the solutions we presented were temporary solutions meant to help people go through a tough time. Through GSIF, I hope I can begin to experience implementing long term solutions that change the way some people go through their daily struggles. A lot of the research done nowadays is put on the shelves of universities and is forgotten about; however, from what I’ve seen from this program, the research being done by students is published in acclaimed journals and contributes to the advancement of the field.

My career interests are centered around academia and research, for now. Taking this class will help me get involved with different research projects and will add an element of distinction to my resume. The experience of working with a team in a fast-paced environment fosters many qualities, such as teamwork, patience, empathy, and time management, that are crucial for modern-day engineers and scientists to acclimate to our rapidly evolving world. As a freshman, I think this is a great start for me to do research and get involved with the fast-paced college environment. It will also be a great opportunity to nurture my time management skills, as I am taking 17 credits, part of another research project, and part of the formula SAE team.

As a computer engineer, the smart cities in the Kazakhstan project should offer me insight on topics such as the effect of computing on society which I am interested in. I am excited about this program and hope I live up to the expectations given to us.

The scarcity of eyeglasses in some areas has led to over one billion people having impaired vision, which is almost 1/7 of the world population. This issue should be considered a major health problem that should be addressed with practical solutions. An initial thought I had was manufacturing the eyeglasses in the country to avoid excessive transportation fees and foreign taxation. While it may seem like a viable solution, it has many fundamental problems. For example, one injection molding device, which needs professional training to be used efficiently, to manufacture the eye lenses would cost at least 30000$, such devices cannot be bought by entrepreneurs in developing countries. Also, the level of proficiency required to run a factory like this one needs employees with a lot of experience and higher education, leading to higher employment costs.

A practical solution would be the donation and reuse of existing eyeglasses. Every eye clinic, hospital, and pharmacy will have a system where the donor fills out a form and the glasses are given unique code. The institution would be responsible for storing these glasses until employee visits, which should be every 30 or so glasses, depending on the storage area available.  These glasses are then sent to the main facility where they are sterilized and stored by visual acuity. A selected number of individuals will be responsible for allocating location in dire need for the donations, and based on this data, the eyeglasses will be distributed. An endeavor like this cannot start without enormous amounts of donations and will not prosper unless a donor base is established. This solution seems like a viable solution, but it depends on the donation of glasses and guarantees that almost everyone in need will be served secondhand glasses, rendering it as a temporary or complementary solution, however not a permanent solution.

Another solution that I’ve read about is the purchase of a lot of glasses from Chinese manufactures for 0.5$ a piece and sell them for cheap prices and profit from them. This solution follows custom import tradition and creates jobs in a developing country. The simplicity of this solution will allow anyone to start this business. This solution contributes to the economy of houses involved and will create a new entrepreneurial spirit that is essential to the development of such countries.

Afterthought, I would suggest that we go to the country and implement the finals solution, in addition to teaching the public about this practice so the knowledge doesn’t stay within. The donation of eyeglasses should be implemented as a complement to the final solution because it is not a permanent solution and should not be depended on by the public.