Founded in 2008, Not Impossible Labs uses collaborative methods to “crowd solve” problems impacting vulnerable people and populations. Not Impossible Labs employees are looking for innovative ways to help families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo get access to vaccines.

Of particular interest is the question of how healthcare providers can let people in rural areas know that vaccines are available. For example, if a mother is going to travel for a day to take her children to a clinic, how can she know when, and whether, the clinic will have the vaccines she needs?

“This has a big impact on people’s lives. We love the idea of helping people a world away.”

OSCAR CASTILLO | Northrop Grumman FabLab manager and mechanical engineer

Northrop Grumman employees collaborated to develop potential solutions during an event they dubbed, “Vaccine: Not Impossible Hackathon.”


During their brainstorming sessions, employee volunteers came up with numerous ideas to inform villagers in remote areas that vaccines are ready for pickup at health centers in more developed areas of the Congo. Some concepts were relatively simple such as using smoke clouds of different colors. Certain colors might indicate vaccines had arrived while other colors would signify different types of medicine. Other ideas were a bit more complex: unmanned boats, balloons and unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with LEDs.

According to Mary O’Reilly, campaign manager at Not Impossible Labs and project lead of “Vaccine: Not Impossible,” various organizations have spent decades and billions of dollars trying to solve this problem. Watching Northrop Grumman engineers throw their ideas into the ring during 11 intense hours was inspirational. “It was great to see people coming in on their day off,” she said. “They were just jumping in and pitching their ideas. We were incredibly impressed with the solutions they came up with.”

Employees support the Tech Underground booth at TechFest 2017
Employees support the Tech Underground booth at TechFest 2017.