International Development Design Summit

Yesterday I attended the final presentation of the International Development Design Summit at MIT – the brainchild of Amy Smith, MacArthur Fellow and lecturer in MIT’s Mechanical Engineering department. This, now yearly, event brought together nearly 60 students from 20 countries around the world to work together with a team of mentors and staff to tackle a number of design problems facing NGOs and non-profits in developing countries.

In an intensive four weeks, the teams went through a crash course of ideation, development, prototyping and presentation. The students, some who are traveling out of their country for the first time, had access to a number of manufacturing labs and processes to help cobble together their first cut solutions.

This year’s batch of ideas included:

  • A device for decreasing the transmission rate of HIV/AIDS from mothers to their babies.
  • A charcoal crushing machine to help make charcoal briquettes from carbonized corn cobs.
  • A rope way system to help craftswomen in the Himalayas get their products to market.
  • A pearl millet thresher.
  • An incubator for low birth weight babies in the developing world.
  • A super low-cost computer for educational programs.
  • An interlocking stabilized soil block maker.
  • A pico-hydro electric generator.
  • A hand-held tool for isolating DNA for improving diagnostic capability.
  • A device for generating electricity from a treadle pump.

You can follow the various teams as they scramble to come up with innovative designs on a well documented daily IDDS Blog.

I had the pleasure of mentoring one of the teams last year and was happy to note that a couple of the students were back this year as mentors and organizers. Look forward to seeing this Summit grow and spread around the world.

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