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Proof-of-Concept Prototypes to Market-Ready Products

D-Lab: Design for Scale is an advanced design course focused on evolving a proof-of concept prototype toward a market-ready product in the context of less-industrialized markets. This is the second time we've offered the course. We thought the course was pretty great last year but after that pilot - and a year of work - the course is exponentially better.

This semester, 12 students are enrolled, most of whom are undergraduate seniors in mechanical engineering. The students have formed three teams to work on D-Lab Scale-Ups fellows’ projects or ventures affiliated with the International Development Innovation Network.  

For example, one team is working with Ghonsla, a social venture that provides sustainable, effective, and economical insulation to underserved markets in Pakistan. Ghonsla’s two-foot square insulation panels are made from recycled paper and can be retrofitted to existing roofs and interior walls. The company was founded by Zehra Ali who completed has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering (2007) and Master of Science degree in Technology and Policy (2009) from MIT. Zehra is passionate about energy efficient housing as well as design and dissemination of pro-environment, scalable energy technologies in developing countries. The student team is working with Zehra to decrease the cycle time of her panel production process so that she can keep up with increasing demand for her product.  

The other course projects include design for affordability of the Jarna Pump a diesel-powered irrigation pump for small-scale farmers in India developed by D-Lab Scale-Ups fellow Mitesh Gala, and design for manufacturability for a nipple shield developed by Just Milk (founded by D-Lab and IDDS alumnus Steve Gerard) that can deliver nutrients or drugs to breastfeeding infants, beginning in South Africa.

Finally, this year, to strengthen the hands-on learning, a suite of labs were developed to allow students to practice product teardowns, product testing, design for jig and fixtures, printed circuit boards, and injection molding. The outputs of these labs culminate in a solar light nominally designed and built by each student using scalable manufacturing processes.

On a personal note, I love teaching this class and working with co-instructors Harald Quintus-Bosz and Kate Bergeron has been a dream - a real high point in my career!

      For more information on Design for Scale, contact Eric Reynolds.

      Field trip: sand and investment casting with Mike Tarkanian at the MIT foundry.
      Field trip: sand and investment casting with Mike Tarkanian at the MIT foundry.