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Innovators at MIT to present workable solutions for developing world


Question: What do a pedal-powered grain mill, a Guatemalan bicycle mechanic, and MIT students have in common?

Answer: The first International Development Design Summit, which has featured dozens of participants from around the world working together over the past month to create real, workable solutions to problems in the developing world.

On Wednesday, Aug. 8, IDDS participants will present the results of their efforts and their proposed solutions to the diverse range of problems they have chosen to tackle during the summit. The presentations, which are open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. in Room 10-250, followed by project displays, poster session and reception in Lobby 10.

The summit has realized the vision of Amy Smith, who received a master’s in engineering from MIT in 1995 and won a MacArthur ’genius’ grant in 2004. Smith, one of the conference organizers, is dedicated to using technology to design simple yet efficient solutions for problems in the developing world.

“I believe very strongly that solutions to problems in the developing world are best created in collaboration with the people who will be using them,” Smith said. "By bringing this group of people together, we get an incredibly broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

During the summit, participants split off into design teams, identified a problem, and collaborated on working solutions. Taking part in all aspects of the design process -- from problem definition through manufacturing of prototypes -- the teams received training at machine shops, rapid prototyping facilities and workspaces at MIT and in the surrounding community.

This year’s projects include:

Off-grid refrigeration for rural areas using evaporative cooling methods.
Microbial Fuel Cells using microbes in their natural environments and locally available materials to generate electricity in the developing world.
Biodigester slurry separation to lessen the burden of water collection.
Low-cost greenhouse from recycled and easily available materials.
Low-cost water testing kit to give developing communities and small scale NGOs the ability to test water sources and supply chains.
Pedal-powered hammer mill to produce flour from grains.
A system that combines the collection, transport, disinfection and delivery of drinking water for the rural household.
Low-cost, modular water filtration unit to provide clean drinking water.
Patient health tracking system using Radio Frequency Identification.
Improved cook stove to reduce smoke production, built with locally available materials.


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