D-Lab

Reflections on an earthquake: moving from plight to promise

By Kofi Taha, D-Lab Associate Director

Kofi Taha

When tragedies such as the earthquake in Nepal strike, we are all called upon to act, be it through active participation in relief efforts, donations, prayers or reflection.

These moments highlight our shared humanity, our collective vulnerability and resilience, and our inescapable dialogue with the earth. Our hearts ache, our hope endures, we learn and we seek pathways between plight and promise. 

I feel deeply privileged to be part of D-Lab where we collectively try to learn how to best answer the call to act, not only in moments of dramatic crisis, but also in response to the quiet crises that threaten opportunity and well being every day for half the world's population.

Through our small program – where an exciting mixture of students, staff, faculty, alumni and international collaborators from the public and private sector regularly interact with creative force – we will only touch a tiny fraction of the need we speak of when discussing "global poverty," but without a doubt, we are learning more everyday about moving from plight to promise. 

You are invited to explore the wide range of ways we pursue this knowledge, be it through class projects that will be highlighted in the D-Lab Spring Student Showcase, hosting the multi-disciplinary MIT Scaling Development Ventures conference, partnerships with international organizers to hold International Development Design Summits in three countries this summer, launching an alliance of corporate, social sector and nonprofit actors interested in social impact, or disseminating our research briefs.

All of these activities are outstanding examples of how D-Lab strives to learn how technology and innovation can measurablly and ethically contribute to ending poverty.  

D-Lab Spring Student Showcase & Open House 2015

Final presentations & working prototypes from current D-Lab students

Friday, May 8, 5:30-7:30 pm - D-Lab, MIT N51 3rd floor (350)

 

 

Students from D-Lab: Design, D-Lab: Earth, D-Lab: Energy, and D-Lab: Dissemination WASH-Env will be presenting projects. In addition, several UROPs will present the work they have done this semester through D-Lab. See below for projects that will be presented.

To kick things off, students will give brief presentations. Attendees will then be able to view all the working prototypes on display throughout the D-Lab space! All welcome.

Courses & Projects

D-Lab: Design addresses problems faced by underserved communities with a focus on design, experimentation, and prototyping processes. (Instructor: Matt McCambridge. TA: Jessica Artiles.)

Student Projects:

A means of fermenting Cacao in small batches to make it possible for small farmers to sell rare varieties at higher cost (Puerto Rico)
A means of manufacturing durable, high-traction crutch tips locally (Guatemala)
A device to allow riders who have only one arm to propel a wheelchair (Guatemala)
A means of separating the fine-grained sawdust used to manufacture ceramic water filters (Uganda)
A means of producing high-grade avocado oil at the village level (Tanzania)
A means of extracting essential oils for adding value to locally produced cosmetics (Ghana)
  • A means of fermenting Cacao in small batches to make it possible for small farmers to sell rare varieties at higher cost (Puerto Rico)
  • A means of manufacturing durable, high-traction crutch tips locally (Guatemala)
  • A device to allow riders who have only one arm to propel a wheelchair (Guatemala)
  • A means of separating the fine-grained sawdust used to manufacture ceramic water filters (Uganda)
  • A means of producing high-grade avocado oil at the village level (Tanzania)
  • A means of extracting essential oils for adding value to locally produced cosmetics (Ghana)

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)

Student Projects:

  • An energy assessment of an off-grid village, with a plan for bringing electric lighting options to community members (El Salvador)
  • A new biodigester design targeted at key community members or future dissemination (El Salvador)
  • Testing of a passive heating strategy for a high-altitude school (Peru)
  • A solar cooker design targeted towards the needs of residents of the Andes (Peru)

D-Lab: Dissemination WASH-Env focuses on disseminating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) or water/environment innovations in developing countries and underserved communities worldwide. (Instructor: Susan Murcott.)

Student Projects:

  • Initiative WASH (Burkina Faso)
  • Water Ecuador (Ecuador)
  • Change: WATER (Jordan)
  • SoapMagic: Waterless Hand Hygiene (Ghana)

D-Lab: Earth is a hands-on, multi-disciplinary exploration of the dynamic nexus between global biodiversity and human well-being. (Instructors: Eric Reynolds & Ariel Phillips)

Student Projects:

  • Creative Capacity Building Workshop with City Growers (Boston)
  • Alternative Waste Streams (Bangkok)
  • Ecotourism (Nepal)
  • Awesome Aquaponics
  • Permaculture and Land Restoration (China)
  • Affordable Soil Sensing
  • Water Filtration/irrigation System (Bali)
  • COMACO Case Study in (Zambia)

UROPs, IROPs, and Independent Studies: Each semester, through the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) several students engage in research at D-Lab. This semester, students working with D-Lab research scientists Rich Fletcher, Dan Sweeney, and Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar will be featured at the Showcase. 

D-Lab UROP Projects from Dan Sweeney's Biomass Fuel and Stoves Group:

  • MIT Engineers Without Borders Charcoal Project (Uganda, Tanzania)
  • Charcoal UROPs Justin Carrus and Sally Miller (joint presentation) (Botswana)
D-Lab UROP Projects from Rich Fletcher's Mobile Technology Group:
 
  • USB for Android (India)
  • Digital Farming (India)
  • Diagnostic Platform for Pulmonary Disease
  • Induction Stoves (India)
  • Mobile Fluorometer for Low-Cost Diagnostics (India)
D-Lab UROP, IROP, and Independent Studies with Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar
 
  • Waste Free Myanmar (Myanmar)
  • Kepler-MIT Lab (Rwanda)
  • Cocina Cohetres  (Peru)

 

 

 

 

 

D-Lab's First Annual Report

Earlier this year, MIT D-Lab released its annual report for the 2013 - 2014 year. Being the first comprehensive report of activities that we have put out since the program inception 12 years ago, we look farther back than this last academic year to put into perspective our current programs. 

The 16 packed and colorful pages that constitute the report provide a very easy to read, high level overview of what keeps us all busy and focused at D-Lab. The report covers our academics and educational programs, D-Lab Scale-Ups, the International Development Innovation Network, the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology EvaluationCreative Capacity Building and the Youth program. Several shorter articles spotlight featured parts of our operations such as our impeccable workshop, the designers-in-residence program, and our decade-long work on agricultural waste charcoal.

Grab your mug, pour your favorite drink, sit back and enjoy reading what we have been up to for the past year in and out of the lab, and get a peek into where we are going next. Short of joining for a tour of D-Lab, reading our annual report gives you a good sense of what's happening at D-Lab.Enjoy!

D-Lab Student Fieldwork, January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

D-Lab: Development students are gearing up for another round of unforgettable international experiences during MIT's January Independent Activities Period, living and working with community partners across Latin America and Africa. 

Botswana
Six students are working on establishing a new community relationship and planning a future design summit.

El Salvador
Four students are engaging in creative capacity building and co-creation with at-risk urban teenagers, and two students identifying cheaper improved toilet designs for rural populations.

Ghana
Three students are working on projects for MoringaConnect, an agricultural startup founded by D-Lab alumni Kwami Williams and Emily Cunningham.

Peru
Six students are collaborating with local university students on sustainable housing and energy projects for rural populations, such as improved cookstoves and insulation.

Tanzania
Six students are evaluating and building on projects and designs created as part of the 2014 International Development Design Summit.

Uganda
Five students are collaborating with local innovators in the fields of agricultural charcoal and education.

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