D-Lab

Investigating user needs preferences for a low-cost water filter while gaining life perspective and cultural meaning in India

by Nupur Dokras, candidate MBA and SM Mechanical Engineering, MIT

Nupur (right) and her translator Deepak Bhatt (left) interviewing a woman in a village in Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand (center).

The team hiking up to a village.

 

Conduting interviews.

 

Design workshops with women to design mock filter prototypes. 

 

The MIT D-Lab team and local university student translators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Project and its key take-aways

The purpose of the project was to gather market data for a current MIT research project Development of Low-Cost Water Filter Using Sapwood Xylem in process under Rohit Karnik, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Amy Smith, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Founding Director of D-Lab. Our goal was to gain an understanding of the user needs and preferences of rural people in India to determine design criteria for this kind of low-cost water filter. Although Professor Karnik has found that xylem from coniferous trees could be used to filter bacteria from water, no market data was available to determine if a product would be accepted in the market and what types of needs the product needed to address. 

I traveled to Uttarahand with D-Lab Research Associate Megha Hegde as trip leader and D-Lab student researcher and Wellesley student Caroline Morris to conduct this study. We started our project in Dehradun where we met with local partner organization People’s Science Institute (PSI) representatives to review the project details and gain local and team alignment on the projects goals, itinerary, and interview guide. Over a period of three weeks in India, we travelled to Almora, Kapkot, and Bageshwar, three towns at the base of the Himalayas to conduct the research activities. 

Working with local university students as interpreters, we hiked up and down the hills into various villages in each of the towns and approached villagers to conduct interviews. After completing nearly 100 interviews and a few design workshops, I was able to use what I learned in classes such as Global Engineering and New Enterprises to develop a set of market findings. 

The interviews gave me an inside perspective on villagers and their way of life. Some people had to walk for over an hour to gather their water several times a day. For many, water quality is not a priority as providing food for their families took precedence. Filters and maintenance parts were difficult to find in local markets as the villages were so remote. 

Other learnings and experiences

Aside from bolstering my academic learnings here at MIT, this trip has absolutely changed my outlook on life. In addition to learning about water filtration and water use, I learned so much more about a simpler way of life. I saw students walking for an hour each way to attend school. I laughed with a child as he ecstatically ran across the field when we fixed his broken plastic flip flop with duct tape. I tried on a crop basket and felt the enormous weight of the mustard plants against my back as I climbed the hill to the house. I was greeted with a cup of chai in every house I went to in spite of the fact that only enough electricity to power three LEDs was available in the entire house. I watched ladies lug gas tanks from the base of a hill to their kitchens in order to cook.

Each of these experiences has made me aware of the immense world outside the bubble I live in. Despite the challenges these villagers face, they never hesitated to offer whatever they had to ensure we were comfortable. This generosity and positivity is something that resonated with me throughout the trip and I hope to live my life with that level of positivity and generosity when I get back to my everyday routine.

Having been to Mumbai and Delhi for family trips before, I did not expect to be affected by culture shock; however, being in rural India was an incredibly different experience. I realized just how much of an adventure we were on when we had to go to ten different stores to find bottled water and had to drive for another hour to find toilet paper and gasoline! The food, though incredibly spicy, was so fresh and some of the best Indian food I have ever had. When handed an orange in a village, I was promptly given salt and spices to smear on the peeled orange. The mix of tangy and spicy flavors was unforgettable!

I was very surprised at how much I had in common with the villagers. We met one of the local guides at the town center and throughout the day we chatted about our interests and families, despite my only being able to speak in terribly broken Hindi and her being able to speak in terribly broken English. I was surprised at how quickly we were able to understand one another and become friends despite being from opposite sides of the world.

I learned to not take my life for granted and to be in a constant search for how to make a positive impact on others. Being in India made me miss seeing familiar food chains and not having to watch out for cow dung on the streets when I walked outside, as well as basic amenities such as access to electricity and light for 24 hours of the day. This experience has given me a new appreciation for a simpler life and the beauty of India. Additionally, it has given me a different perspective on how to view day to day challenges, and realize how they pale in comparison to other larger issues in the world. 

As a first generation Indian American, this trip not only allowed me to get a small taste of what life was like in my country of origin, but also gave me the opportunity to give back to a country that has defined a part of who I am. After cultivating some strong relationships with PSI, the Kumauni interns and the D-Lab team at MIT, I hope to continue to work on the development of the design of this filter during the upcoming semester. Though I loved my former work as an automotive engineer and have accepted a full time position in the industry after I graduate with my MBA and MS in Mechanical Engineering, I hope to actively participate in MIT’s social impact projects as an alumna.

I’m grateful to D-Lab for this once in a life opportunity. I know I wouldn’t have been able to learn many of these life lessons solely from the classroom. I am incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity and will never forget the relationships I made, experiences I had, and lessons I learned!

Waste plastics recycling needs assessment and more in Uganda

by Joy Lee 

Left to right: Drew Beller '18, Joy Lee '13, and Tim Mangenello '17 stand proudly by a completed charcoal grinder. Photo: Lauren Bustamante

Plastic and chemical waste polluting a stream in an industrial area of Kampala.

 

Plastic wasted littering a roadside in Soroti.

 

Traditional three-stone fire.

 

An example of a “honeycomb” briquette. These briquettes are named for their shape, which allows for easy channeling of flames during use. 

 

Cookstove in use with bread cubes at the side.

 

Making banana bread pudding!

 

 

 

 

During MIT Independent Actitivies Period in January, I had the opportunity to travel with a D-Lab: Development course team to Uganda. My goals were twofold – to perform a needs assessment for a waste plastic recycling project for MIT Chapter of  Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and to support the D-Lab: Development team with their projects.

ResilientAfrica Network and waste plastic recycling needs assessment

EWB's waste plastic recycling work inititally grew out of a project taken on by a D-Lab: Develpment team in Tanzania last year (see blog post). In Tanzania, they melted plastic bags and then used the resulting material for crocheting a variety of products. EWB has been running with this work since then, and had been looking to do a needs assessment with a developing world partner. Funding from a UGC D-Lab Fieldwork grant made this possible.

We spent the first few days of our trip in Kampala, the capital city. During the course of our time in Kampala, we met with young innovators working with the ResilientAfrica Network. The teams were tackling a wide range of problems from fetal monitoring in rural towns to producing reliable sources of cooking fuel using sustainable materials. In talking further with Sophie and Pamela from the sustainable fuel team, I realized that they might benefit from the work we had done for our plastics project.

The traditional method of cooking used is with a three-stone fire fueled by logs. Unfortunately, cooking with wood over an open fire poses both an environmental risk (due to deforestation) and a health risk (open flames, smoke that irritates the eyes and airways). In a city like Kampala, it is especially important to find an alternative, sustainable source of fuel. The RAN charcoal briquette team makes briquettes using organic waste material to create char that they then mix with a binder (for example, molasses thinned with water) that holds the char together and allows them to produce “honeycomb” charcoal briquettes that are essentially smokeless. Their process starts with purchasing dry organic waste matter such as leaves and other plant clippings. They then sort the material by hand, removing trash such as plastic bags or bottles. Although this is the most painstaking step of the process, they are unable to use the non-organic waste, and discard those items. 

This provided me with an opportunity to assess the feasibility of, and interest in, turing this extracted plastic waste into something useful. The current plastic melting procedure developed by EWB uses readily available items such as a large cooking pot, vegetable oil, and wooden molds. While in Uganda, I was able to build a simple wooden mold with Sophie and Pamela for them to use in testing their setup. They were able to easily purchase the other items in Kampala, and were planning to begin testing. One of their asks from the EWB team is that we partner with them to test different types of filler material to see what will bind well with the plastic. Although plastic is plentiful, other materials such as sand are cheaper and will add the volume needed to create larger items. (As a general reference point, roughly half a shopping bag will make a thin square of molded plastic about 1”x 1”x 1/4”). We look forward to seeing where the project goes from here.

Innovation workshop

I also had the opportunity to work with the D-Lab: Development team on their projects – running a youth innovation workshop and improving ventilation for a charcoal grinder machine. (See Rachel and Drew’s post for more details on these projects.) One of the more rewarding aspects of the trip for me was the chance to work with the kids and briquette factory workers in Soroti to discuss with them some ways we stimulate creative thinking and approach design solutions. It was  rewarding to see them get excited about developing their own designs and build prototypes to test them. As Drew, Tim, and I worked with them over the course of our two weeks in Soroti, we saw them build their confidence for trying out new methods and designs. I especially wanted to pass along one of the lessons that I learned as a student at MIT – it’s okay if your design doesn’t work the first time. I explained that just because something doesn’t work at first doesn’t mean that you should give up on that design concept entirely. It probably needs some tweaking and some additional testing, and perhaps you will find after some more testing that you can identify the flaw in your design. In other words, keep at it until you’ve tried everything! (And please take the appropriate safety precautions at every step!)

Health issues and working conditions

One of the things that I learned in Uganda is how easily people can develop serious health issues because of unsafe working conditions. My entire life, I’ve been told not to look at the sun, to wear close-toed shoes when working with machinery, and to be careful with wearing loose clothing around open flames. When we were in Soroti, one of the cookstove factory workers came to work in the morning with red, watery eyes. He said his eyes were hurting so badly even with sunglasses on that all he could do was to sit in the shade. He asked for eyedrops and painkillers (which we discovered are what people use frequently to treat their symptoms of extended exposure to light from welding). We explained that looking at the light from welding could cause permanent eye damage, and that treating the symptoms was not enough. It was hard to watch my new friend in so much pain – especially when it was easily preventable. One of my takeaways from this trip is that there is a need to not only improve the technological tools in developing countries, but also train people how to safely and effectively use the new technology. Improving people’s quality of life hinges not only on access to better infrastructure and technology, but also on access to information about how to live safer, healthier lives. 

Banana bread pudding!

I wish I could share more about my trip to Uganda because it was a challenging, but incredibly rewarding experience. In the limited space I have, I will share one fun experience with you – making banana bread pudding. It’s a tradition to cook dinner for the Soroti-based team on our last night in town. Our team was planning a menu and realized that with the easy access to bananas, we could bake banana bread for dessert. The only problem was that only bakeries have ovens. In an effort to improvise, I decided to make banana bread pudding. (Pictures are below. We were outside and it got dark as I was cooking so the final dish looks pretty gray.) Overall, it was fun – I had six-year-olds helping me make it, and I got to try cooking on a charcoal-fueled cookstove! The texture was similar to oatmeal in the end, but the flavor was great. It’s something I would try out here in Boston with not-crumbly bread.

I’d encourage everyone who has a chance to work on a D-Lab project to do so and I’d also like to thank the D-Lab team, the EWB team, our partners in Uganda, and the UGC for making this trip possible. 

MIT Alumni on Why They Support D-Lab in the MIT Giving Day Challenge

This Pi Day, March 14, 2017, friends of MIT from around the globe will join together to take on the university’s first-ever 24-Hour Giving Day Challenge.

If 1,500 people make a gift to MIT in just 24 hours, it will unlock a $150,000 matching gift from a generous, anonymous donor.

D-Lab is proud to be a participating partner in Giving Day, and we hope you’ll consider making a gift to support D-Lab’s work designing for a more equitable world.

 Here is what some of our alumni say about why they support D-Lab’s work:

“I loved my projects at MIT, but felt that a lot of resources went to building the next frontier of technology. D-Lab was one of the few programs that focused on innovative, simple solutions for real needs of 80 percent of the world's population living on less than $2.50 a day. This has been a huge inspiration for how I want to dedicate my time in the future.”

—   Caroline Hane-Weijman, Pivotal Labs Product Manager, (Mechanical Engineering, '11)

“Diversity. Inclusion. Community. Agency. Empowerment. Excellence. To me, this is the MIT ethos as embodied by the work that D-Lab does through the programs I know and love.”

—    Ticora V. Jones, Division Chief of the USAID Higher Education Solutions Network, (Material Science & Engineering, '00)

“D-Lab provided me a framework to assess the challenges facing those in the developing world and collaborate on solutions. I rely on this knowledge frequently in my work at edX where we work to provide access to higher education to everyone. I support D-Lab because I feel we at MIT have a duty to create a better world and society for our fellow citizens. D-Lab, and its numerous alumni, help bring the world to MIT, and MIT to the world.”

—    Clinton Blackburn, Senior Software Engineer at edX, (Computer Science, '08)

“Support D-Lab today so that some of the nation’s best and brightest at MIT will bend towards service and co-creation. But also support (Founding Director) Amy Smith because in her work at MIT, she also fuels this movement in education for institutional and academic partners all over the US and all over the world. When you contribute to something like D-Lab, you know the money is well-spent and the effect is real - and is reaching far beyond the confines of Cambridge.”

—    Nadeem Mazen, Cambridge, MA City Council Member, (Biological Engineering, '06)

“Working with D-Lab has been a very fulfilling and invigorating way for me to stay in touch with MIT. The students have a true sense of purpose and are very well aligned with MIT’s mission to create long lasting impact on the world. I truly enjoy getting to know the students at D-Lab and see their creativity and technical skills go toward solving profound challenges. If every engineering problem that the world faces was tackled with the same enthusiasm and energy that we see in D-Lab - the world would be a much better place! I am humbled and honored to work with persons that care so much about their work.”

—   Kate Bergeron, Vice President of Hardware Engineering at Apple, (Mechanical Engineering, '93)

“It is such a privilege to come into D-Lab every single day to work with a truly global community of passionate people who are all about the business of creating a more just and equitable world. That we make small, measurable steps in that direction through practical, yet inspired solutions in collaboration with practical yet inspired people is, from a personal and professional standpoint, a dream come true." 

—   Kofi Taha, Associate Director at MIT D-Lab (Masters in Urban Studies & Planning)

 This MIT Giving Day, we hope you’ll make a difference with a gift to D-Lab.

Interested in becoming an MIT Giving Day Ambassador, and telling others why you support D-Lab’s work? Please email Lauren McKown at lmckown@mit.edu and we’ll share the details.

Creating a Valuation Method to Provide Leverage for an Informal Market in Durban, South Africa

by Emma Castaños '17 & Teresa De Figueiredo '17

MIT students Emma and Teresa at the Brook Street Market.

 

Left to right: AeT staff member, Teresa, and Kate.

 

Left to right: Emma Castaños and three AeT staff members.

 

Murals memorializing local traders near the Early Morning Market.

 

A view of the taxis that travel through Warwick Junction.

MIT seniors Emma Castaños and Teresa De Figueiredo and D-Lab instructor and CREATE Executive Director Kate Mytty traveled to Durban, South Africa to work with the NGO Asiye eTafuleni (AeT). During the month of January, they worked on a Market Valuation project described in this blog post. (A second project focused on Public Lavatories). They worked in close collaboration with the AeT team including Phumelele, Nompumelelo, Tasmi, Patrick, and Richard. Emma and Teresa are both continuing these projects through a UROP supervised by Kate under the MIT CREATE program.

Emma's work was supported by a UGC D-Lab Fieldwork Grant and Teresa's by an MIT Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center Fellowship.

--------------------

Smiling faces, cake, and sparkling juice greeted us at our first staff meeting. The Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) team had put together a small celebration; not for us, the newly arrived MIT group, but for the service of Lihle on her last day of work. Lihle is a trader from Warwick Junction working as a Hair Dresser, now an AeT intern alumna and a trained Markets of Warwick tour guide. The mutual thanks of the AeT team and Lihle during their goodbyes were our first introduction to the collaborative and welcoming environment that we would discover during our stay with AeT. 

On that same day, Patrick, Nompumelelo, and Phumelele, took us on a tour of Warwick. We saw a market that was bustling with activity, emanating music and energy, and brimming with friendly, hard-working, and kind people. For the rest of our stay, we could always rely on the advice from Nonhlanhla about the best route to take through the market. In the market, we listened to the hubbub around us and the interpretations of our hosts. From Patrick, we learned about the vendor organizations and their self-regulating functions. For example, Traders against Crime formed to combat crime in the highest crime area of Warwick. Today, with the Traders against Crime unit, this area is one of the safest areas of Warwick. We learned that if someone runs past the traders, the traders will stop the running person and make sure they are late for a train and not running away from a crime committed. This illuminated a belief that Richard has shared with us earlier in the day, that Warwick was a democracy in a true meaning of the word.

In the following weeks, we witnessed firsthand the AeT team’s demonstrated understanding of the complex organism that is the Markets of Warwick. Not only does the team know how to work with the stakeholders in the markets, they hold a deep respect for their autonomy and authority. Patrick constantly told us that if one gives the traders respect, they will give respect in return. This principle was shown in practice during our interviews with the vendors. Phumelele, Nompumelelo, and Patrick made sure to explain to the vendors what work we were doing and how our work would directly benefit the vendors. Furthermore, we emphasized that the vendors were the experts in our research and it was crucial we learned from their experiences and knowledge. Through AeT, we learned to foster and appreciate respect for the individual vendors and the market communities.

During our preparation for this internship, we read about Participatory Action Based (PAR) research. We learned that PAR requires including the beneficiaries of the research and ensuring equal opportunity and engagement in the research process and development. It is not simply researchers coming in, completing their work, and leaving; but rather, researchers engaging with the community and empowering the vendors to have ownership over the information and outcomes of the research. Through conversations with Tasmi, we have learned how AeT masterfully applies the concept of PAR. They engage interns that have worked in Warwick Junction, train traders with research skills, hold community meetings and workshops to solicit meaningful input in their project work, and even invite vendors to international conferences. AeT provides an excellent example of PAR and it was a wonderful experience to learn firsthand from them.

In our last week, we learned the meaning of Asiye eTafuleni which means “a seat at the table” in Zulu. This phrase epitomizes AeT’s organizational approach and thus is a perfect phrase to describe their work. In short, the values of respect permeate the AeT work culture. During our time with AeT we felt welcomed and valued, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Warwick!

D-Lab Reg Day Tour & Open House, Feb 6, 1-3 pm

D-Lab Registration Day Tour & Open House
Monday, February 6: Tour 12-1 pm;
Open House with Instructors 1-2 pm

MIT N51 3rd floor
Register!


Curious about D-Lab Spring 2017 Courses? Always wanted to come for a tour? Interested in exporing a D-Lab UROP? Have questions for a D-Lab instructor?

If so, come on over the the D-Lab Registration Day Tour and Open House!

2017 Spring D-Lab Course Listings

D-Lab: Design EC.720 (U) / 2.722J (3-0-9)
Instructor: Matt McCambridge

D-Lab: Earth EC.714 (U) (2-0-4)
Instructors: Ariel Phillips & Susan Murcott

D-Lab: Education & Learning EC.S07 (U) / EC.S11 (G) (2-2-5)
Instrutctors: Jessica Huang & Lisa Nam

D-Lab: Energy EC.711 (U), EC.791(G) / 2.651 (3-3-6)
Instructors: Libby Hsu & Amit Gandhi

D-Lab: Field Research EC.788 (G) (3-0-9)
Instructor: Elizabeth Hoffecker

D-Lab: New Economies EC.740 (3-0-6)
Instructors: Libby McDonald & Kate Mytty

D-Lab: Prosthetics for the Developing World EC.722 (2-2-5)
Instructors: Bryan Ranger & Matt McCambridge

D-Lab: Water and Climate Change EC.719 (U), EC.789 (G) (3-4-5)
Instructors: Susan Murcott & Julie Simpson

Humanitarian Innovation EC.750 (U), EC.785 (G) (4-0-8)
Instructors: Amy Smith & Martha Thompson

AND

Design for Complex Environmental Problems  1.015
Instructors: Ari Epstein, & D-Lab's Libby Hsu!

D-Lab UGC Fieldwork Grant Awards!

 

Fall 2016 UGC D-Lab Fieldwork Grant winners!

 

 

 

Congratulations to the three students who have been awarded Fall 2016 UGC D-Lab Fieldwork Grants!

Check back soon for the winners of the UGC Peer Impact Prizes, which will provide additional funding to these three. 

EMMA CASTANOS ’17
Creating a Valuation Method to Provide Leverage for an Informal Market
Durban, South Africa

Project Goal

I am part of a partnership between MIT CREATE and Asiye eTalfuni (AeT), a nonprofit organization that aims to support vendors working in public space in Durban, South Africa. I aim to develop a mechanism to value Warwick Market and integrate it into the city’s planning priorities. The long term goal is to share this tool with other practitioners through the WIEGO network.

How funding will support Emma's D-Lab project

Warwick Market is a natural market existing in Durban for over 100 years with an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 vendors that are mostly Zulu. About 30 percent of South Africa’s employment is informal and Durban alone has an estimated 50,000 street vendors. Warwick has an important historical legacy as a space for consumers to find affordable goods and services and for vendors to earn income. UGC funding will support my work on this project over IAP. During IAP, I will be working with AeT to develop a multidimensional valuation metric tool so vendors can demonstrate the value of Warwick. This tool will highlight the needs of the space and legitimize the value of the market. This is the first stage of an ongoing collaboration between CREATE and AeT. I am working with Teresa De Figueiredo '17 and Alaa Raafat (Harvard Student) under the supervision of D-Lab instructor Kate Mytty.

Lauren TenCate ’18
Precious Plastic - Waste to Wealth
Arusha, Tanzania

Project Goal

Over the course of this project, I will implement plastic melting and forming technologies developed by Engineers Without Borders over the course of the past year. Additionally, I will work with community partners to find uses for objects formed from melted plastic bags and bottles.

How funding will support her D-Lab/Engineers Without Borders project

UGC funding will provide the necessary support to travel to Tanzania to implement the plastic melting project she has been involved with for the past year, and which was initiated by D-Lab students in Tanzania in January 2016. Additionally, these funds will be used to purchase equipment to build a plastic melting setup that can be used by the community partner for the foreseeable future. I am hopeful that this project will be able to turn plastic repurposing and manufacturing into a viable industry in Arusha and in the country of Tanzania.

EMILY YOUNG ’18
Locally Manufacturable, Inexpensive Motorcycle Ambulance Trailers in Rural Tanzania
Mbeya, Tanzania

Project Goal

In Tanzania and much of rural Africa, villages are not close to hospital centers. If an injury occurs, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get help. The goal of this project is to create a means of transporting sick and injured people over unimproved roads via a motorcycle without making permanent modifications.

How funding will support this D-Lab project

UGC funding will allow me to take this project from a prototype that she is passionate about to a product that has the potential to impact hundreds of lives. This grant will fund a trip to Tanzania over IAP, where I will work with users, local manufacturers, and the project sponsor to make this a reality. This project has the potential to significantly reduce fatalities, by utilizing resources that already exist. By gathering user input and conducting field testing in the location where the prototype will be used, I can ensure this patient transport system will make as large of an impact as possible. I am working with a team that also includes Sade Nabahe '17, Jimmie Harris '17, and Mitch Turley '18. 

Event! November 15: A conversation with Bici-Tec founder Carlos Marroquin

 

Carlos Marroquin, founder, Bici-Tec (Guatemala). 

Carolos in the Bici-Tec workshop with Charlotte Fagan, International Director of Programs for Bikes Not Bombs. 

SAB graduate Oscar Enrique de Rosa Villega, originally from Bolivia.

Ta Corrales Sanchez '16 and SAB graduate (foreground) with Carlos Marroquin (center back) and colleagues in Costa Rica.

Carolos Marroquin working with students at Bici-Tec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pedal-powered innovation from rural Guatemala: A conversation with Bici-Tec founder Carlos Marroquin

Presented by MIT D-Lab & Bikes Not Bombs
at the MIT Museum
265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Mass.
Tuesday, November 15, 6 PM (free)
Doors will open at 5:30 and a reception will follow the presentation at 7. A number of bicycle machines will be on display throughout the event.

 

D-Lab and Bikes Not Bombs are pleased to present Carlos Marroquín, inventor and founder of the Guatemalan social enterprise Bici-Tec, at the MIT Museum on November 15 at 6 P.M. Register to attend this free event here.

Carlos will be joined by Bici-Tec alumnus Dave Boudreau and D-Lab instructor Kate Mytty who will speak about their experiences with pedal-powered machines, working with Carlos, and how their knowledge of appropriate technology has shaped their career paths. 

D-Lab's Gwyn Jones will introduce Carlos and his history with D-Lab. Carlos has been a friend of D-Lab's for almost a decade, participating in the first International Development Design Summits, which took place at MIT in 2007 and 2008, and since then, serving as teacher, mentor, and inspiration to generations of D-Lab students and instructors, and as a member of the International Development Innovation Network.

Bikes Not Bombs has partnered with Bici-Tec since their founding in 2013. BNB provides containers of used bicycles and parts, as well as technical assistance to support Bici-Tec's success in achieving it's mission of spreading pedal-powered alternative technology around the world. Over the years BNB has supported Bici-Tec to create a strategic vision for Bici-Tec as a social enterprise, as well as supported them to launch the School of Appropriate Bici-Technology. BNB looks forward to continuing to work with Bici-Tec into the future, and to see the use of pedal powered technology spread! 

About Carlos Marroquin and Bici-Tec

Carlos has spent the last 20 years innovating pedal powered machines, making significant contributions to the global development of this technology. His slide presentation will cover his work designing, fabricating, promoting and distributing bicimáquinas - bicycle machines - intended to simplify and enhance rural livelihoods and to spur entrepreneurship and economic growth. He will also discuss the context and challenges facing rural Guatemalan farmers and share his experiences addressing these challenges through pedal power machines and by building a global network of pedal powered innovators. 

Carolos' bicimáquina designs include deep-well water pumps, maize degrainers and grinders, blenders, vegetation choppers, coconut shredders, and others. These bicycle machines represent a middle ground between the artisanal and the industrial, and offer a sustainable and energy-appropriate option for smallholder farmers and producers.

In addition to his work as a designer, he has taught workshops and spoken about bicimaquinas extenisvely throughout North and South America and estalbished the Bici-Tec’s School of Appropriate Bici-Technology (SAB), an eight-week program in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala. Local and international students  work side-by-side to deepen their understanding of the challenges faced by rural families, the theory and application of appropriate technology, and the design and fabrication of bicimáquinas, as environmentally sustainable labor-saving solutions. Participants design and build a selection of bicimáquinas, drawing from existing designs and exploring new innovations. Ta Corrales Sanchez '16, is the most recent MIT-affiliated graduate of the SAB program.

 

 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - D-Lab