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. 

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.

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

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

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

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

The D-Lab Network: Intricate, Tightly Woven, and Colorful!

Victor Grau Serrat, D-Lab Co-Director












Colorful and intricately woven textiles are a common sight in rural Guatemalan markets, like the one I wandered through in Nebaj with my D-Lab colleague Kofi Taha when we launched a program there earlier this month. 

As eye-catching as these traditional fabrics are, I was fascinated by the process of weaving them, with their myriad short threads skillfully intertwined. 

The way in which D-Lab’s rich network of programs has evolved and the patterns of crisscrossed relationships that have emerged remind me of these Mayan textiles. I am amazed when I look closely at the densely woven patterns of people, programs, and stories that have become D-Lab. And I know that just as the complexity of a Mayan textile makes it both durable and beautiful, that something similar is true for the fabric of D-Lab.

Using the October issue of the D-Lab Digest, I am going to attempt to reveal to you the intricacies of connections and patterns that exist in our people and programs, highlighting the connections between the featured stories.

Mitesh Gala, featured as a new Scale-Ups fellow, participated in the 2010 International Development Design Summit (IDDS) and holds an MBA from Colorado State University, a consortium partner of the International Development Innovation Network

Mitesh’s Jarna Pump (India) is a class project this semester of D-Lab: Design for Scale that instructor Eric Reynolds blogs about. Other projects of this class are Ghonsla (Pakistan) by Zehra Ali, also a Scale-Ups fellow, and JustMilk (South Africa) founded by Stephen Gerrard (D-Lab: 2006 and IDDS alumnus: 2008, 2009, 2010) and others. 

Stephen attended the same 2010 IDDS summit as Mitesh, and the coordination of that summit brought Eric to D-Lab that same year. Eric’s co-instructor, Harald Quintus-Bosz, has been also instructing and organizing IDDS for six years (and overlapped with all of them in 2010). 

Moving forward four years, there is a video feature of IDDS 2014 (Tanzania). Around minute 4:16, IDDS participant and D-Lab alumnus Elliot Avila chats with villagers about avocado processing. As part of the D-Lab: Development class, Elliot worked on the making of artisanal, natural-dye crayons in Avani (India). 

Avani is the community partner in Northern India for D-Lab Study Abroad that instructor Libby Hsu (co-instructor for D-Lab: Development and D-Lab: Energy) reports on from her recent visit

Coming back to Elliot, he did his undergraduate thesis on designing a cargo tricycle for Wecyclers (Nigeria), founded by Scale-Ups fellow Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, and is now working at Global Cycle Solutions, founded by D-Lab Scale-Ups fellow Jodie Wu in Tanzania. 

Like Elliot, Betty Ikalany attended IDDS 2014 in Tanzania, and is featured as Ugandan Innovator and Energy Champion. Betty is the CEO and founder of Teso Women Development Initiatives (TEWDI), a Ugandan enterprise supported by the Scale-Ups Harvest Fuel Initiative (HFI). 

As part of HFI, D-Lab researcher Dan Sweeney provides technical support to TEWDI, and traveled with a group of D-Lab: Development students to Uganda to work on the improvement of charcoal production and do emissions testing of stoves. This very same emissions testing is what brought Dan to Guatemala to do clean cookstove field tests with Soluciones Comunitarias, with whom Kofi Taha and I are partnering with to bring the Creative Capacity Building (CCB) methodology to Guatemala

Interestingly, Kofi and Amy first met Betty in Uganda on their way to deliver some CCB trainings in the North of the country. And equally interesting, one of the projects that Libby is considering in Avani is how to use the residue from a gasifier to make charcoal briquettes - the same charcoal briquettes that fuel Betty’s TWEDI in Uganda.

In light of this, an opportunity to rebrand ourselves may emerge -- how about...

D-Lab: Weavers of Lives!

Read Victor's blog about his recent trip with Kofi Taha to Guatemala
Kicking off Grassroots Innovation in Guatemala

Contact Victor Grau Serrat


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