It's corn harvesting season in D-Lab!

It's that time of the year again when we admire the foliage throughout New England, we leave behind the carefully carved pumpkins, and we prepare for the harshest of the winter that will soon be upon us. The maize fields are ready for the combine harvester to collect what nature has patiently helped to grow over the past months, but right before that happens, a crew of D-Lab staff, namely Amy, Becca, Eric and Jack, visit one of these fields somewhere in northeast Massachussets under the warmth of a full moon to stack up several boxes of raw corn on the cob and corn stalks. This yearly routine provides a much needed input for many D-Lab activities that are aimed at improving the post-harvest agricultural processing of many communities throughout the developing world, where corn is a staple food. Like many of these communities, we first need to dry our corn, which we easily accomplish in our overheated basement rooms at MIT. We then practice, explore and improve corn processing technologies, like do-it-yourself hand-held corn shellersGlobal Cycle Solutions pedal-powered maize sheller, and Maya Pedal bicimolino. With the stalks, we'll do many charcoal burns to carbonize them and make briquettes out of them, both as part of our lab's research in emissions testing, and educational exercises as part of our D-Lab: Development class. Lots of things to do with corn in D-Lab, hopefully we'll have enough until next year!