D-Lab Spring Showcase & Open House

D-Lab challenges talented students to use their math, science, engineering, social science, and business skills to tackle a broad range of global poverty issues. Come see how our students are making an impact!

WHAT: Final presentations & working prototypes from current D-Lab students
WHEN: Friday, May 9th from 5:30 to 7:00 pm 
WHERE: At D-Lab, MIT N51-3rd Floor

D-Lab students from the five spring courses offered will be presenting!

- D-Lab: Design
- D-Lab: Dissemination WASH
- D-Lab: Energy
- D-Lab: Education
- Developing World Prosthetics

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.

Tubular cubbies

Cubbies under construction.


Installing the framework.


Painting the tubes.


Ta da!



The D-Lab workshop on the third floor of N51 MIT building is a dynamic space, where D-Lab students prototype their class projects, where UROPs build their contraptions to advance ongoing research in areas of agriculture or energy, and where primary school children get exposed to innovative technologies that improve poor people's lives.

Lots of shop users create a need for lots of personal storage space

The workshop sees consistent traffic of students who roll up their sleeves to tinker and build technology. And these workshop users bring along their backpacks, notebooks, jackets and whatnot that need to be stored conveniently and safely.Since we set up the workshop, we have had the need for some storage capability to put personal belongings away while people work on their projects.

Embracing innovation 

Instead of following the standard route of procuring ready-made storage furniture, we decided to embrace innovation, and make good use of the fabrication tools that we had lying around, and make something that would inspire others to join the creative process in a playful, yet functional manner.

Tubulor Shelves Instructable

After some Internet wandering, the initial inspiration was found in the following Instructable for Tubular Shelves, which in turn can be tracked down to some high-end furniture design of FlexiTube shelving system. Drawing inspiration from nature (in mimicking honeycombs) put a different spin on the design, with an element of randomness in the placement and length of each of the tubes.

Credit where due

The initial design was by Victor Grau Serrat, and was first prototyped in CAD software by Dennis Nagle, and later cut using a ShopBot (low-cost CNC router, where CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control) that we had access through the International Design Center down the hall (thanks to Charles Guan for the technical support provided).

Fabrication, painting and assembly were done by Jack Whipple and Victor Grau Serrat.


Celebrate International Day of the Girl with D-Lab: Education!

Featuring a screening of an excerpt from "Girl Rising," a groundbreaking film which spotlights the stories of unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. Girl Rising captures their dreams, voices and remarkable lives to showcase the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. 

Screening followed by reflections and discussion with:

SHAWN POWERS - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

LIBBY MCDONALD - MIT Community Innovators Lab

KAREN BRENNAN - Harvard Graduate School of Education

CONNIE CHOW (Moderator) - Science Club for Girls

Friday, October 11
2:00-3:30 pm
D-Lab N51-310   

For further information contact: d-lab-youth@mit.edu

Download pdf event flyer here.



D-Lab Youth: Learning as an early-stage program, and getting ready for the fall!

Written by Jessica Huang

D-Lab's fledgling youth outreach program has trialed a number of initiatives this past year, and is now processing the lessons learned to gear up for the 2013-2014 academic year. We have been taking full advantage of the summer to undergo a strategic planning process, which has been helping us improve our activities with K-12 level youth and teachers.

The new D-Lab: Education class was piloted last semester with 19 students and a few listeners, exploring educational challenges in the international development context. Six student teams worked on projects with international community partners, while practicing curriculum development and teaching with Massachusetts schools and educational organizations. This summer, the class projects are being followed up through various mechanisms:

  • The team working with Luz del Futuro in Nicaragua was awarded a Legatum seed grant and iHouse funding and returned from a trip running educational activities with the women leaders of the waste picking cooperative and their children in Bluefields
  • Jonathan from the team working with AISE in Tanzania is on a summer PSC fellowship, working with Bernard Kiwia to document and support the educational activities he has been running with youth in Arusha
  • Janet from the team working on the Lenana Project in Kenya also received PSC funding and is working on the ground with teachers to pilot a summer program full of hands-on STEM activities in Nairobi
  • The teams working with the Kasiisi Project in Uganda and schools in New Longoro, Ghana have passed on their hands-on learning materials to people who are doing fieldwork there now, including a few Massachusetts teachers who worked with the class and mentored team projects leading up to their summer trip
  • The team working with the Avani school in India is currently planning on how they can continue their project work in the upcoming fall semeter and IAP. This team's Boston-area partner, the Advent School, has been working with D-Lab this summer to engage students in learning about the creative design process and the world around us.

In addition to the class, D-Lab has also hosted 2 education-focused UROPs this past year to create educational resources around biodigesters and technologies to improve water quality with ASAPROSAR's Barefoot Angels in El Salvador and the Kasiisi Project in Uganda. We received valuable feedback on the class and UROP positions, and are now improving the project identification process and overall structure to enable us to work with more students interested in international education from MIT, Harvard and Wellesley next year.

Staff and students have also been continuing to host youth visitors to D-Lab throughout the academic year and summer, from groups including Science Club for Girls, several public and private schools in the greater Boston area, Girl Scouts, Upward Bound, and the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs. A former D-Lab: Education student has returned to work with us on the next iteration of hands-on workshop offerings, which will be starting up again in fall. Please keep an eye out for online sign-ups!

D-Lab Waste Partners with Inter America Development Bank (IADB) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Nicaragua

Written by Libby McDonald

In an effort to design a comprehensive waste management system comprised of small waste sector businesses managed by residents living in poverty in Nicaragua’s Southern Autonomous Region (RAAS), MIT’s Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) and D-Lab Waste partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank's Multi Lateral Investment Fund (MIF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the local NGO BlueEnergy to develop a comprehensive program that simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides income opportunities to some of the region’s poorest inhabitants.

The video below documents D-Lab Waste student initiatives over the last three years.


D-Lab Waste's work, implementing waste sector enterprises in partnership with municipal governments and low-income residents will continue throughout the 2013 term in the D-Lab fall course, EC.716, taught by Libby McDonald.

Student projects, which will be implemented in January 2014, will include enterprise creation with waste pickers in Nicaragua; an in-depth research project that identifies the impact of trash on sea life on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (this will require students to become certified divers over the fall term); and entrepreneurship training with indigenous communities living on four islands off the Caribbean Coast of Panama.

For more information, contact Libby McDonald at libmac@mit.edu.


Subscribe to RSS - D-Lab