Foreign aid workers in disaster-ravaged countries gained a valuable tool thanks to the efforts of a few University of Minnesota students.
Sarah Theisen and Chris Lucia were among five student interns who helped Ultralingua, a Dinkytown-based startup, to launch its Apps for Aid program. Since December, the company has been donating translation software to foreign relief volunteers so they can communicate with the locals.
Ultralingua develops translation dictionaries, spell-checking programs, phrase books and other digital language learning tools for the iPhone, iPad and Windows. It also developed a Haitian medical reference guide following the earthquake in January 2010.
The software doesn’t require an internet connection, allowing its use anywhere in the world.
The company had been donating its language software “on and off” since 2009, spokeswoman Ashleigh Lincoln said.
But a team of interns, who worked with the company this fall as part of a practicum course, helped create a structured, permanent donation program.
The interns saw the idea as the best way for Ultralingua to give back to the community, Lucia said. The company agreed and spread its software globally. What started out as a class project turned into something more.
Apps for Aid works alongside International Medical Relief, an organization sending short-term medical missions to locations throughout the world. IMR has responded to disasters in China, Indonesia, Chile and the Philippines.
The organization’s nurses, doctors and relief workers used Ultralingua’s Haitian medical reference guide to better converse with Haitian-Creole-speaking earthquake survivors. IMR will begin using the company’s Spanish dictionaries in Peru and Panama this year.
“I hope that they are able to partner with more organizations and get their products in the hands of more aid workers,” Lucia said. He graduated from the University in December with a public relations degree.
Despite being an intern, Lucia saw Apps for Aid as something he could actually implement while working at Ultralingua. The company was launched in 1997 as “two college profs in a garage,” Lincoln said. It often employs recent graduates and takes on student interns.
“I hope that the program continues to grow,” Lucia said. “I think that this could become a large part of what Ultralingua does.”
After finishing her internship, Theisen was hired by Ultralingua to expand the Apps for Aid program.
“If we have the resources, why not use them for good?” she said.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.