In today’s tech-heavy world, there are few skills more valuable than engineering (in all its forms). And while there are plenty of engineers who would love to spend at least some of their much-desired time working on social good projects, many of them don’t know where to look. Fixing that is the goal of Rally for Impact, a new foundation from software company Rally intended to help "citizen engineers"—people who use their technical skills to solve pressing world challenges—focus their skills.
There are three main components to the foundation: Stories for Impact, Partners for Impact, and Tools for Impact. In the Stories for Impact section, users can find stories of other successful citizen engineers (including the story of David Douglas, the former chief sustainability officer of Sun Microsystems and author of a book called Citizen Engineering), as well as a place to tell their own stories.
Tools for Impact provides free licenses to citizen engineers for Rally’s AgileZen, a project collaboration platform that allows users to create open-source initiatives that are viewable by anyone, even without logging in. Engineers can also access free and low-cost software from organizations like Google.org, Netsuite, and Ideo. And Partners for Impact explains Rally’s partnerships with citizen engineer-supporting organizations, including B Lab, the Unreasonable Institute, and HUB Boulder.
Rally also launched a survey designed to gauge the wants and needs of citizen engineers. "It’s a highly engineered, fairly interactive classification survey that allows you to tell that story, create a small narrative. We’ll build a … map of those narratives with obstacles that you could tell other citizen engineers to avoid, what path you would recommend others to follow," says Ryan Martens, Rally’s founder and CTO.
Data will be made available through Rally partner Cognitive Edge in the hopes of showing where roadblocks to becoming a citizen engineer lie, and how to overcome them. That data should also eventually allow Rally to direct citizen engineers to startups that need their help—otherwise, how would a software engineer at, say, Google, know how to find a female entrepreneur in a developing country that could use their expertise?
In the future, Rally hopes to help engineers figure out how to bring social good into their own work, and how to see the business potential in creating sustainable solutions. Overall, says Martens, "We’re trying to provide training and products to help citizen engineers be successful."