D-Lab Students

41 D-Lab students will travel to 10 countries in January!


Team Botswana with Community Collaborator (center) Thabiso Blak Mashaba, CEO of These Hands, GSSE in Botswana.


MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) is one of my favorite times of the year because it is a perfect opportunity to send D-Lab students abroad. This month, our students are traveling to 10 different countries and working with collaborators from many areas of D-Lab’s global network.


During the course of the month, they will immerse themselves in different cultures and communities to perform needs assessments and investigative research, begin or advance projects, and assess past work by previous trips. Students will mostly live in the communities where they are working, often living with host families, to experience life as it is lived by our collaborators. Here’s a snapshot of what 41 students and their trip leaders will be working on.

From the D-Lab: Development Class

Team Botswana is working with These Hands for the third time, advancing work on six projects that range from an ostrich egg driller (for making jewelry) to  a pedal-powered washing machine. Five students will travel with trip leaders Brittany Bautista and Justin Carrus, both MIT graduate students who were involved with D-Lab as undergrads.

Team Colombia is investigating projects from IDDS Climate Change Adaptation and helping local innovation center C-Innova decide how they will progress. Six students will travel with trip leaders Johanna Greenspan-Johnston (graduate student in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning) and Juan David Reina Rozo (Fulbright Fellow at D-Lab and Colombian native).

Team Guatemala is following up on projects from IDDS Sustainable Homes, with a focus on examining cookstoves and cooking practices in the town of Santa Catarina together with partner Link4 Five students will travel with leader Charlotte Fagan, formerly of Bikes Not Bombs.

Team India & Nepal is embarking on a two-in-one trip so they can work on a xylem filter water research project funded by J-WAFS  and an agriculture project, both in India, as well as a heating project in the Himalayan region of Nepal. Seven students  will travel with trip leaders Megha Hegde and Anish Paul Antony, both D-Lab research staff members. Supported in part by MISTI and MIT-India!

Team Kenya is providing technical support to two startups in Nairobi, BrightGreen Renewable Energy and Foondi.  Two students with leader Juliet Wanyiri, Kenyan native, founder of Foondi and a current graduate student at MIT's Integrated Management Program.

Team Uganda is running a youth STEM workshop in Soroti in collaboration with Makerere University  and TEWDI Uganda. Three students will travel with trip leader Nai Kalema, longtime D-Lab staffer.

From the D-Lab: Gender Class

Team Ghana is running a workshop to identify wastepickers’ financial needs and aspirations in order to identify appropriate financial inclusion tools for the informal sector with Environment360, Fan Milk, and WIEGO. Four students with leader and course co-instructor Libby McDonald. In conjunction with D-Lab Inclusive Market project Resilient Economies Action Lab (REAL).

Team Nicaragua is leading workshops with a cooperative of 400 smallholder women farmers to understand technologies and business models appropriate for responding to climate change and share results to learn from one another with Fundacion Entre Mujeres and Fundacion Para la Investigacion del Clima. Three students with trip leader Juliana Miranda Mitkiewicz, a visiting PhD student from Brazil. In conjunction with D-Lab Inclusive Market project Pick-it!

Special Project - Transform WASH Co-Design Summit

And finally, I and my colleague Sher Vogel will be taking 6 current and former D-Lab students to Ethiopia to participate in the Transform WASH Co-Design Summit, occurring from January 21 to February 2 in Awasa. These students will be working alongside local Ethiopians in six teams seeking to identify behavioral and cultural solutions that help eliminate open defecation, in partnership with Population Services International

Stay tuned for Updates!

Like what you’ve read so far? Then stay tuned for blog posts from students, instructors, and trip leaders when they return to Cambridge in February. I can’t wait to see what stories they bring back!


D-Lab Fall Student Showcase & Open House 2017

Final presentations & working prototypes from current D-Lab students - Friday, December 8, 5:00-7:00 pm - D-Lab, MIT N51 3rd floor (350)

WHAT: Final presentations & working prototypes from current D-Lab students
WHEN: Friday, December 8th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm 
WHERE: At D-Lab, MIT N51-3rd Floor

D-Lab: Development

Instructor - Libby Hsu. TA - Johanna Greenspan-Johnston

1. Botswana Team: Asli Demir, Danielle Gleason, Rianna Jitosho, Caroline Jordan, Szabolcs Kiss, Veronica LaBelle — These Hands

2. Colombia Team: Vibha Agarwal, Gabriela Barrera, Elisabeth Boles, Milani Chatterji-Len, Scott McCuen, Emma Rutkowski, Jacqueline Shen, Nikita Waghani, Franklin Zhang — C-Innova

3. Guatemala Team: Ghada Amer, Julia Cha, Cayanne Chachati, Natalie Nicolas, Neha Rajbhandary, Tchelet Segev — Link4, Universidad del Valle Guatemala

4. India & Nepal Team: Anselmo Cassiano Alves, Viban Gonzales, Nihil Kunapuli, James Li, Jennifer Lu, Lucy Milde, Ellie Simonson, Adam Zhao — JWAFS/MIT Mechancial Engineering/MIT D-Lab

5. Kenya Team: Asia Chapman, Valerie Richmond, Alexandra Shade, Srimayi Tenali, Kimberly Villalobos Carballo — BrightGreen Renewable Energy, Foondi

6. Uganda Team: Hannah Diehl, Yu-Na Lee, Lauren Luo, Zilpa Oduor, Amanda Wu — TEWDI Uganda, Makarere University

D-Lab: Gender & Development

Instructors - Libby McDonald & Kate Mytty

1. Climate change adaptation with farmers: Juliana Miranda Mitkiewicz, Olivia Mae Waring, Thea Louis, Janel Mendoza  —  Fundacion Entre Mujeres & Universide de Central America, Nicaragua

2. Inclusive financial tools with wastepickers: Sruthi Davuluri, Raeesa Rane, Aimee Veneau, Elsa Kudzi, Karrisha Gillespie, Madhur Wale, Kate Pundyk  —  Wastepicker Community, Danone, & Asheshi University, Ghana

D-Lab: Schools

Instructor - Les Norford

1. Net-zero energy school - improvement to the design and operation of urban primary schools in Southeast Asia to enhance thermal comfort while minimizing energy demand and building materials: Abigail Anderson, Hellen Awino, Ciera Gordon, Eryn Halvey, Marco Rosero, Marcas Smith, Illili Tegene, Eric Wong — UC Berkeley, Nat. University of Singapore

D-Lab: Supply Chains

Instuctor - Stephen Graves

1. Supply chain, operating processes, and work schedules for a burrito stand: Daysi Gomez, Veronica Jardon, Camille Stubb — Bluefields Community, Nicaragua

2. Examination and evaluation of options for scaling jewelry business: Hind Saleh, Jacqueline Simmons, Madelena Collins — Soko, Kenya

3. Analysis tool to help inform inventory control decisions: Rachel Burns, Amy Liu, Pragadeesh Meenakumar — Selco, India

4. Map and assessment of the fuel supply chains for Ungandan refugee settlements: Julia Wong, Fabiano da Silva Rocha, Anubhav Arora — UNHCR, Uganda

5. Market entry strategy for protein products to be created from press meal: Jen McDermott, Khanh-An Vu, Laura Diggans, Tal Gilad — MoringaConnect, Ghana

D-Lab: WASH + ENV 

Instuctors - Susan Murcott & Kate Cincotta

1. N-Nitrosamine measurement & modeling: Abby Harvey, Tchelet Segev — Puerto Rico

2. Sanitation Monster: design and prototype of a feces to energy module: Hannah Hoffman, Islam Genina, Andrew Tsang — Location TBA

3. WASH insfrastructure and gender in rural Uganda: Christin Smyrilli — Uganda

4. Design of a low-cost rainwater harvesting system: Else Schlerman & Hiromi Hashimoto — Kenya

5. Review of arsenic remediation technologies for low-income communities: Prakriti Sardana — Global

6. Irrigation/water supply project in Tanzania (w/ MIT Engineers Without Borders): Johan Arango — Tanzania

7. Raingarden capture and treatment using salt-tolerant native plants: Nicole Zhao — Paramecium Pond, Wellesley College

8. WASH Behavior change: Yuxi Xia, Wahito Njau — Saha Global, Ghana

9. Throwback Weather App - Interactive Infographic that presents data of the climate of Boston/World in the last 60 years comparing with the present days.Location World:  Anselmo Cassiano, Research Affiliate — Global

Design for Scale

Instructors - Kate Bergeron, Harald Quintus-Bosz, & Sorin Grama. TA - Cheetiri Smith

1. Improvements to agricultural processes and irrigation: Hesper Alkestrup, Jacob Bindman, Shilpa Naik, Jana Saadi — Kethworks, India

2. A shock pylon design for trans-femoral amputees in India: Ali Abdalla, Alexandra Flaherty, Shelby Stack — Shock Pylon, India

3. Low-cost, waterless toilet for non-sewered households globally: Tyler Ashoff, Emmanuel Azuh, Wendy Bae, Ellie Simonson — change:WATER Labs, Global 

4. Xylem Water Filter: Ivy Chang, Pragadeesh Meenakumar, Caroline Morris, Riddhi Shah — JWAFS/MIT MechE/MIT D-Lab, India

To kick things off, D-Lab instructors gave brief overviews of their classes. Attendees then had the opportunity to speak with student teams and view all the working prototypes on display throughout the D-Lab space. 

D-Lab students: Join a WASH-Themed Design Summit in Ethiopia, Jan 2018! Apply by Sept 29!


Seeking up to six MIT D-Lab students to attend  a two-week, hands-on, multidisciplinary co-design summit around the theme of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) during MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) 2018. The summit is being offered by MIT D-Lab and PSI Ethiopia. Applications due September 29, 5 pm. See below for details!

Thirty participants—a mix of MIT D-Lab students, rural health promoters, local government officials, and WASH experts—will convene in six teams to work on challenges and opportunities related to the increasing use of sanitation products in southern rural Ethiopia. The WASH Design Summit is one component of PSI’s longer- term USAID-funded program called Transform/WASH–a program that aims to improve sanitation solutions in a country where open defecation is still common. 

Students who are selected to join the summit will travel to Ethiopia with D-Lab staff in order to live and work with Ethiopians during the summit.

Eligibility and Process

Students are eligible to participate in the co-design summit if they:

  • Complete the materials in this application and are available from January 22-February 2, 2018 (with travel time on each end)
  • Have taken at least one MIT D-Lab class (Wellesley and Harvard students who have taken an MIT D-Lab class are welcome to apply as well)
  • Have participated in at least one MIT D-Lab fieldwork trip OR have equivalent experience in a developing country, including experience with prototyping and/or fabrication
  • Are willing to engage in weekly preparation meetings with the other attendees in Fall 2017 and complete basic documentation after the summit

All students selected for the co-design summit will be notified by Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and must indicate their commitment by Friday, October 6, 2017. 

The cost of flights, transportation, and accommodation will be covered for every student. Students are responsible for their own visa and passport costs, food, incidentals, optional sightseeing, and medical expenses during the trip.*

Questions? Contact MIT D-Lab Education Coordinator Libby Hsu.


A. Answer the following questions:

  1. Full name as it appears on your passport
  2. Course and class year
  3. Phone number
  4. Email address
  5. Local mailing address
  6. Nationality
  7. List all D-Lab classes you have taken and UROPs you have participated in, including year
  8. Describe the D-Lab fieldwork you have participated in, including year and what partner organization and trip leader(s) you worked with. If you have not participated in any D-Lab fieldwork, please describe your experience in developing countries and why you think this experience qualifies you to participate in the summit.
  9. What skills and areas of knowledge do you have that would make you a good participant for a WASH co-design summit?
  10. What does participatory development mean to you?
  11. Why do you want to attend the summit? What are your goals and expectations for the summit?
  12. Participants will be expected to live in conditions very different to those in the United States, which may include sleeping in a hammock or on the floor, eating foods unfamiliar to them, working in extreme heat, and living or experiencing periods of time without running water or electricity. Are you prepared to experience these conditions for two weeks?
  13. Are you able to commit to attending weekly (1-2 hour) meetings from October-December 2017 to prepare for the summit from cultural, subject matter, and safety perspectives? 
  14. Are you able to commit to attending the full summit, including adequate travel time before and after the summit?
  15. Please write a brief (100 words) biography of yourself, for use if you are selected as a participant.

B. Attach the following materials to this application:

  1. Headshot of yourself
  2. Current resume
  3. Current unofficial transcript
  4. Names of two references; one must be an MIT D-Lab staff member, member of a partner organization, or trip leader

* Pending funding. Final contract negotiations expected to conclude in October.

D-Lab Spring Student Showcase 2017: May 12, 5 pm

D-Lab: Design students in the D-Lab workshop working on a pediatric standing frame for STAND Haiti.


Friday, May 12, 5:00-7:00 pm - D-Lab, MIT N51 3rd floor

Students from D-Lab: DesignD-Lab: EarthD-Lab: Education and LearningD-Lab: Energy, D-Lab: Field Research, D-Lab: New EconomiesD-Lab: ProstheticsD-Lab: Water and Climate Change, and Humanitarian Innovation: Design for Relief, Recovery, and Rebuilding presented projects, in addition, to fellows and UROPs. Instructors gave brief presentations and attendees viewed all the posters and working prototypes on display throughout the D-Lab space! 

D-Lab: Design 

Addresses problems faced by underserved communities with a focus on design, experimentation, and prototyping processes. Instructor: Matt McCambridge

  • Bamboo bicycle frame, Bamboo Bicycles Beijing, China
  • Desert sand wheelchair, D’Kar Innovation Center, Botswana
  • Mango seed oil press, Mango Tango Naboye, Zambia
  • Off-grid forge, D’Kar Innovation Center, Botswana
  • Pediatric standing frame, STAND Haiti, Haiti

D-Lab: Energy 

Offers a hands-on, project-based approach that engages students in understanding and addressing the applications of alternative energy technology in developing countries where compact, robust, low-cost systems for generating power are required. Instructors: Libby Hsu & Amit Gandhi

  • Design of a High Thermal Insulation Material for Cookstoves, Uganda
  • Design of an Improved Metal Liner for Makaa Cookstoves, Uganda
  • Desalination Solutions for the Salt Farmers of Gujarat, India
  • Improved Impeller Design for an Affordable Solar Pump, India

D-Lab: Field Research 

Designed for students preparing to conduct research abroad for theses, product design project, or development ventures, in which they practice a set of key research skills particularly applicable to conducting research involving people and communities in the context of development. Instructor: Elizabeth Hoffecker

  • STG/One Power Impact Strategy, STG International, Lesotho
  • Saathi Pads Impact Strategy, Saathi Pads, India

D-Lab: Earth 

A hands-on, multi-disciplinary exploration of the dynamic nexus between global biodiversity and human well-being. Instructors: Susan Murcott & Ariel Phillips

  • Cuba's Sustainable Agriculture, Cuba
  • Iluminate, USA
  • Agroforestry Carbon Sequestration in Northern Ghana, Ghana
  • Citronella Oil Extraction through Low-Cost Steam Distillation, Ghana
  • Methylmercury Health Impacts on Indigenous Tribes in Canada from Hydroelectric, Canada

D-Lab: Education & Learning 

Explores learning in the international development context and how innovative approaches and researched best practices can overcome challenges such as limited resources, language barriers, large class sizes, and entrenched pedagogy. Instructors: Jessica Huang & Lisa Nam

  • Translating teacher training into classroom practice in Ghana, Practical Education Network, Ghana
  • Inquiry-based electrical engineering curriculum with Bangladeshi middle school students, JAAGO Foundation, Bangladesh
  • Curriculum applying data visualization and collection to weather and agricultural sensor data, C-Innova, Colombia
  • Waste-Free Myanmar curricular collaboration, Waste-Free Myanmar, Myanmar
  • After school vocational training and youth action research, Path to Knowledge, Nicaragua

D-Lab: New Economies

Explores the ideas behind, and actions toward alternative economic systems aimed at reclaiming the power to control and build inclusive local and regional economies; secure rights to food, water, land, and healthy environments; build resilience; restore value systems; and ultimately to improve the quality of life. Instructors: Libby McDonald & Kate Mytty

  • Local economy in Ésteli, Nicaragua
  • Food Justice, Nuestras Raices, Holyoke, Massachusetts.

D-Lab: Prosthetics

Addresses issues on the basics of human biomechanics, types of disabilities, and available technologies for physical rehabilitation. Topics include prosthetic devices for upper and lower extremities, as well as both developed and developing world techniques for overcoming these disabilities. Instructors: Matt McCambridge & Bryan Ranger

  • Transfemoral rotator design for manufacturing Mobility India, Jaipur Foot Organization, India
  • RIckets Orthotic Device, STAND, Haiti
  • Cane to standard fitting adapter, Rise Legs, India
  • Knee testing device, Transitions, Jaipur Foot Organization, Guatemala, India
  • Cosmesis, Rise Legs, India
  • Shock-absorbing pylon, Jaipur Foot Organization, India

D-Lab: Water Climate Change 

By 2025, more than half of the countries in the world could be experiencing water stress or scarcity. Water stress and scarcity are exacerbated by climate change. This class is about real-world answers to climate change as it relates to water. Instructors: Susan Murcott & Julie Simpson

  • Greening of Kresge Lawn, USA
  • In an Oyster Shell, USA
  • Flocktracker - smart phone tool for surveying water & climate change impacts, Global
  • Communicating Climate Change to a Broad Public, Global
  • Expert Surveying of Water Infrastructure in Nine Cities, Bangladesh & Pakistan
  • Allston I-90 Green Stormwater Project, USA
  • Flood Mitigation Tool & Users Manual, Global
  • Aquateca, Pure Home Water, GhanaGhana (Anselmo Cassiano, fellow)

Humanitarian Innovation: Design for Relief, Recovery, and Rebuilding 

Explores the role innovation can and does play in how humanitarian aid is provided, and how it can change people, products, and processes. Instructors: Amy Smith & Martha Thompson

  • Increasing safety for South Sudanese women in refugee camps, Northern Uganda
  • Providing Economic Opportunities for Refugee Youth in Athens, Greece
  • Reducing Tensions between Syrian Refugees and Host Communities, Lebanon

Biomass Fuels and Cookstoves Group 

Research on cleaner-burning fuels and cookstove technology. Lead Research Scientist: Dan Sweeney

  • The Makaa Project: Co-Design, Performance Testing, and Techno-Economics to Improve a Ugandan Charcoal Cookstove (Lauren Bustamante, master's thesis project)

Mobile Technology Group 

Lead Research Scientist: Rich Fletcher

D-Lab Fall Student Showcase & Open House 2016

Final presentations & working prototypes from current D-Lab students - Friday, December 9, 5:00-7:00 pm - D-Lab, MIT N51 3rd floor (350)

Join the crowd that assembles at D-Lab twice a year to see what our students have been working during the semester!

WHAT: Final presentations & working prototypes from current D-Lab students
WHEN: Friday, December 9th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm 
WHERE: At D-Lab, MIT N51-3rd Floor

D-Lab students from six fall courses offered will be presenting!

D-Lab: Development, Instructors Libby Hsu and Amy Smith

  1. Botswana Team: DingRan (Annie) Dai, Ayesha Khan, Alberto Mulero, Kavya Pathak, Orlando Ward-Santos — These Hands
  2. Colombia Team: Stephanie Cheng, Anshula Gandhi, Justin Gong, Bruke Kifle, Roget Mo, Jose Padilla, Jana Saadi, Kaymie Shiozawa — C-Innova, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  3. El Salvador Team: Sally Beiruti, Kelly Chen, Katherine Dieppa — ASAPROSAR
  4. India Team: Ramkrishnamurth Bhaskharamurthi, Caroline Morris — JWAFS/MIT Mechancial Engineering/MIT D-Lab
  5. Uganda Team: Andrew Beller, Rachel Galowich, Madeline Haas, Timothy Manganello, Benjamin Teitscheid — TEWDI Uganda

D-Lab: Gender, Instructors Libby McDonald & Martha Thompson

  1. Basho (international development program that works with an aging population in post-disaster regions): Carissa Connelly (no display) 
  2. Association of Ethopian University Women: Tigist Kassahun Temesgen (no display)
  3. MIT D-Lab/ International Development Innovation Network Network CCB training, innovation centers: Gayathri Ramani (no display)
  4. MIT D-Lab Off-Grid Energy Group: Nai Kalema, Melissa Mangino, Anish Paul Antony

D-Lab: Mobility, Instructor Matt McCambridge

  1. Wheelchair Modification for Dessert Sand: Cady Lytle, Mina Blume, shannon McCoy, Sarah Tress  — Dkar Innovation Center, Botswana
  2. Durable Low-Cost Power Wheelchair:Sarah boet Whittaker, Scott Middleton, David Wang, Roberto Campanario — Bamboo Bicycles Beijing, Beijing, China

D-Lab: Supply Chains, Instuctor Stephen Graves

  1. Naasakle Body Care Products: Adedoyin A Olateru-Olagbegi, Erica M Waller, Lauren S Ullmann — Ghana
  2. Smart Hydro: Tom Vollmer, Tobias Alexander, Emil Ballauff, Sabrine Ahmed Iqbal, Paul Stanier — India
  3. Living Goods: Bridget Bassi, Devin M Williams, Morgan F Goodson — Kenya, Uganda

D-Lab: Waste, Instructors Kate Mytty and Jennifer Hiser

  1. Evaluating Technology in Context: Mobile Apps for Waste Pickers: Rebekah Bell, Talia Fox — Wastepickers, Brazil
  2. Mattress Recycling - Project Development: Willy DeConto, Thomas Giardina, Yanis Techagumthorn, Aldis Elfarsdottir — UTEC, Lowell, Mass.
  3. Survey on Reuseable Mugs: Ronja Pereira Haase — MIT Office of Sustainability
  4. Extending the Resueable Takeout Containers System at MIT: Tiffany Wang — MIT Office of Sustainability
  5. Torrefaction Comparative Case Studies: Deng-Tung Wang — Safi Organics/Takachar
  6. Link Between Waste Education and Behavior Change: Helen Kim — Winsor School, Boston, Mass. 
  7. Using Technology to Improve Waste Disposal in Mumbai Slum Communities: Udayan Dasgupta — TBC / Mumbai Waste Organization, India
  8. MOWA: D-Lab’s only Museum of Waste Art: 4 Pieces by D-Lab Waste Class, 2016 — In-class project

Design for Scale, Instructors Kate Bergeron, Harald Quintus-Bosz, Matt McCambridge

  1. Multicrop Thresher: Henry M Lubowe, Jahnavi Kalpathy, John Thomas B Homrich, Maya S Sathaye, Rory M Beyer — Imara Tech,Tanzania
  2. Photovoltaic Tracker: Emily J Young, Mitchell P Turley, Sade K Nabahe, Tamanna Islam Urmi — STG, Lesotho 
  3. Posture Support for Pediatric Wheelchairs: Erica M Waller, Jamie Wong, Marian J Heman-Ackah, Meghan Nicole Maupin, Rachel M Nations — Diversability Development Organization, Toronto
  4. Wheelchair Activity Tracker: Lara Markey, Pashu Pasich, Meagan Patrick — Sensen, MIT

To kick things off, D-Lab instructors will give brief overviews of their classes. Attendees will then be able to speak with student teams and view all the working prototypes on display throughout the D-Lab space. All welcome.

Reception following.

Measuring and analyzing the usage and adoption of the Makaa cookstove, Uganda

By Julia Heyman '17

A community member cooking on her Makaa stove just after the team installed a sensor on it. 

The team visits Sipi Falls (Julia Heyman second from right).


Stove use monitoring sensor.


Set up of three particulate matter sensors in a kitchen.

This summer, I traveled to Uganda with Megha Hegde (D-Lab research associate),and Dan Sweeney (lead research scientist D-Lab Biomass Fuel and Cookstoves Group) and Amit Gandhi (D-Lab instructor, MIT PhD candidate, and co-founder of Sensen), to work on a cookstove adoption study. This project is in its second year, and the aim of our work is to measure and analyze the usage and adoption of a cookstove designed by Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies Limited (AEST) as well as to study the application of low-cost sensors in this work. AEST, based in Soroti, Uganda, produces charcoal briquettes and designs the Makaa stove – an  improved charcoal cookstove that has lower emissions and is more efficient than traditional three-stone fires. 

In January, I visited Soroti to work on this project and was able to see the dedicated, hard work of the AEST team – comprised of 80 percent women - and community. Over the past few years, their cookstove and charcoal briquette production has significantly increased. I was inspired to continue this work throughout my spring semester at MIT and focused on the calibration of a low-cost particulate matter sensor as well as on testing potential design modifications and their effects on the Makaa stove. Returning to Soroti this past summer was a rewarding experience, as it allowed me to continue strengthening my relationship with the team and community as well as to evaluate and think critically about my involvement and future in this sector during my last semester left at MIT.

During the first two weeks of the trip, we focused on interviewing community members about their stove usage – specifically their experience with the Makaa stove – and the pros and cons associated with it. We traveled from house to house and listened to the women in the households talk about the Makaa stove – the amount of money that the stove saves them per month, how portable the cookstove is, and the challenges associated with longterm durability. Some of the women liked their Makaa stove so much, that when the stove broke, they would create small makeshift designs to fix the issues – local innovation right in the home! The feedback was appreciated and helpful, and we are currently working to perform more thorough data analysis in order to better understand the community members’ adoption of the cookstove as well as provide the AEST team with a better understanding of how the stove is perceived in the community. 

The Stove Use Monitoring Systems (SUMS) have been installed in 30 households for the past year, and the recent phase of the project focused on collecting and updating the sensors to be reinstalled. We downloaded data stored on the sensors, which gives us insights into how often the stoves are being used in the households. Additionally, we updated the sensors’ insulation to decrease the amount of heat transfer that occurs between the stove and the SUMS. For the particulate matter sensors, we are testing a proof of concept design as well as the life and durability of them. With both of these sensors, we hope to continue working on how to scale up and continue iterating to improve the design for future applications.

During the trip I had the unique opportunity to stop by the International Development Design Summit (IDDS) focused on cookstoves in Kampala, Uganda. I got to see teams’ final projects, and the work that had been put into the iterative design process to complete the prototypes. It was exciting to see individuals from East Africa connect and work on innovative projects that are connected to the local community. Communicating with the participants was refreshing and invigorating as many of these leaders planned to continue their hard work back in their communities and expand upon the work they started at IDDS.

I am very thankful for the D-Lab Fieldwork Grant, funded by the MIT Undergraduate Giving Campaign, as well as to the D-Lab: Energy class, without which this work would not have been possible.

D-Lab Fall 2016 UGC Fieldwork Grants of up to $3,500

MIT undergraduates: Secure $2,375 - $3,500 for D-Lab-related fieldwork from the Underclassmen Giving Campaign!

Katelyn Sweeney (left), Fall 2015 winner of a D-Lab UGC Fieldwork Grant to test a transtibial prosthetic liner in Kenya & Ethiopia/

Design for a mobile solar-powered ATM for use in India. Co-designed by fall 2015 D-Lab UGC Fieldwork Grant recipient McCall Huston.

Chheangkea Ieng '17 - Peru.

Sydney Beasley '14 - Mexico.

MIT D-Lab Fieldwork Grants provide funding to send students abroad and continue work initiated at D-Lab to benefit communities in the developing world. These grants are intended for projects that began in a D-Lab class, independent study, UROP, research fellowship, or other D-Lab context. 

Eligibility: ALL MIT undergraduates (seniors now eligible!)

  • Currently taking—or have taken—a D-Lab course.
  • Currently doing a UROP at D-Lab or IDIN research fellowship or have in the past.
  • Currently working on - or have worked on - a D-Lab project in any other capacity.

Note: You are not eligible if you have guaranteed travel funding through a class.


MIT D-Lab Fieldwork Grants

MIT D-Lab Fieldwork Grants provide funding from the MIT Underclassmen Giving Campaign to send students abroad and continue work initiated at D-Lab to benefit communities in the developing world. These grants are intended for projects that began in a D-Lab class, independent study, UROP, research fellowship, or other D-Lab context. Fall 2016 grants are intended for projects and travel to take place over the 2017 Independent Activities Period.

The Underclassmen Giving Campaign

Since October 2006, MIT undergraduates have been donating their time and money to support student grants (since fall 2015 D-Lab Fieldwork Grants) through the Underclassmen Giving Campaign (UGC). 

Each semester, volunteers gather in Lobby 10 for a one-week campaign, encouraging classmates to support their fellow students by helping fund their project ideas and turn them into reality.

Fundraising and Voting

Donating to the UGC is simple. Each fall and spring there is a campaign to raise money to support grants for the upcoming year in Lobby 10 from freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Donating via the UGC website is also an option. Each underclassman who donates gets to vote for her/his favorite project! While all three D-Lab Fieldwork Grant nominees are guarenteed funding, additional Peer Impact Prize  awards of $1500, $750, or $325 will be awarded based on the number of votes received. Underclassmen can certainly donate as many times as they want during the campaign, each donor is allowed only one vote.

Finalist Responsibilities & Qualifications

UGC finalists will represent the UGC, D-Lab, and their project throughout the campaign period. If a team project is selected for funding, the team must designate one individual to represent the team. Finalists may promote their project using various marketing channels, such as, but not limited to: face-to-face communication, e-mail, text messaging and social media. Finalists may not endorse any project other than their own. The MIT Annual Fund will provide information on the finalist’s projects at Lobby 10 booth sessions, co-sponsored class council and UA events and online. Finalists are not responsible for soliciting gifts and should refer prospective donors to a UGC committee member.


  • Attend a 20-minute informational meeting to learn about the UGC 
  • Provide D-Lab staff with the requested project information 
  • Participate in a two-minute marketing video explaining the project’s focus
  • Attend the UGC’s kick-off candidate poster session in Lobby 10
  • Promote your project during the UGC campaign period. Promotional opportunities include: Lobby 10 booth sessions, co-sponsored class council or UA events, speaking opportunities at class or a student organization meeting, e-mail, text messaging, and social media channels
  • Publicize the UGC
  • Make your own gift during the campaign period
  • Provide a blog post and images to D-Lab and UGC at the end of the project


  • Strong communication skills
  • Belief in giving back to the MIT student community
  • Enthusiasm for MIT and D-Lab
  • The ability to make time for UGC activities

Spring 2016 Timeline

  • Applications due: October 10
  • Announcement of finalist selections: October 14
  • UGC informational meeting (required): Week of October 17
  • Finalist two-minute video recordings: Week of October 24
  • Campaign and voting in Lobby 10: October 31-November 4

Download the D-Lab UGC Fieldwork Grant application here!

Download an Overview, Process, and Timeline of the D-Lab UGC Fieldwork Grant program here!

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