Design Engineering
Showcase 2020

God's Army United Services

Priyen K Morjaria
Development and Outreach
Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara
Design Engineer
Technology, Media and Telecommunications

God’s Army United Services (GAUS) is a California-based non-profit organisation which provides support to those in need across LA county. They distribute approximately 30,000lbs of food annually with the help of over 70 volunteers and run other non-food initiatives. This requires a lot of organisation!

I worked remotely as a Design Engineer to analyse their current paper-based system, design an online alternative and then produce an implementable version.

My cross-platform, cloud-based system decreases waste, provides performance metrics, instructs new volunteers and automates key tasks. I am glad I could use my skillset to help a community despite the distance!

 — God's Army United Services

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

I broke the task of “replace our logistical and volunteer management system” into sub-tasks:

  • Identify GAUS’ crucial information and needs.
  • Design an approachable structure and feature set to meet said needs.
  • Create a mock-up of the database system for review.
  • Iteratively improve the system based on feedback and research
  • Produce a final accessible prototype (as well as potential areas for future improvement).

I created a design specification and selected a platform to best meet GAUS’ needs. I selected Notion as it is easily accessible on most devices and allows for data handling via coded formulas across linked databases. Notion is also a visibly intuitive platform for new users to navigate and input logistical data. This enabled me to implement features that were easy-to-use whilst still being able to automate complex tasks and share data between pages.

Example pages can be viewed above. Major considerations included minimising food wastage, improving food safety, creating clear performance metrics, task automation and having a clear backlog.

Role and Contributions

My role as a Design Engineer involved identifying key areas where GAUS could improve their competitivity and performance. This ensures they can help people as effectively as possible and provide more resources where possible. As they are reliant on donations and funding to run, having a high quality of outreach and a clearly stated impact is beneficial.

This primarily meant overhauling their paper-based system with an equally approachable alternative that took advantage of being software-based. This significantly improves the efficiency of GAUS' management and volunteers, as well as providing insight into how they can improve. For example, waste statistics by food type, partner donation invoices, distributed food value and a record of volunteers' impact is now readily available. I also aided with website design, including SEO optimisation and hosting.


Overall, I believe my impact at GAUS will be long lasting and very helpful. It was useful learning how to pinpoint stakeholders’ needs and research appropriate solutions. I was able to learn about new platforms, experiment with barcode scanning for API’s and get to grips with the inner workings of a non-profit organisation. I believe it is especially important to find roles that you value and that will widen your perspective.


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