Saving the World with a Computer Science Degree
Portman Wells, Say Ahh Systems
Thursday, February 2, 3:30-4:20 pm, MEC 205

There are hundreds of organizations using technology to fight poverty, disease, and inequality. They all need the help of talented computer scientists. Portman Wills, a 2002 alum, will share stories from projects in South America, Africa, and Asia and will then present five case studies:
  1. DDD, which taught keyboarding to unemployed, handicapped Cambodians, and then hired them to do data entry.
  2. CITI, which helped hundreds of charities and not-for-profits use technology effectively.
  3. Benetech, which built software to help victims of human rights abuses easily and security file reports.
  4. Aurolab, which invented low-cost, high-quality artificial lenses for cataracts patients in India.
  5. CDI, which provided technology opportunities to residents of Brazilian favelas.
Links for the companies' websites can be found here at this link:

Portman Wills is the founder of Say Ahh Systems, where he is building software to help consumers better understand and manage their families' health information. He previously served as the Chief Architect at Voxiva, where he designed global communications and information systems for developing nations. Prior to that, he spent one year as Chief Technology Officer of Digital Divide Data, where he architected a system for synchronous data entry in multiple worldwide offices.

Other career highlights include: building the popular commencement speech archive Fly Little Bird; designing the communications protocols betweenLiberty Wireless (the first MVNO in the US) and Sprint; and streamlining thehome loan process as a Program Manager for Microsoft's HomeAdvisor realestate tool.

He studied mathematics, economics, and computer science at the University of Virginia and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife.

After graduating from U.Va. in 2002, Portman Wills ditched a career at Microsoft to volunteer with a World Bank project in Uganda. Since then, he has become obsessed with using technology to combat the world's social problems. He has lived and worked in South America, Africa, and Asia.