International Development Through Dialogue, Design, and Dissemination

Published in MIT News on February 10, 2014, by Bernadette Esposito, MIT Industrial Liaison Program

Twelve years ago, Amy Smith taught a class on adapting medical technologies for use in small-scale clinics. When a group of Haitian students became interested in developing technologies for Haiti, they asked, how could you design a product for Haiti if you’ve never been there?

Smith, now a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering and co-director of MIT's D-Lab, which she founded, says the question resonated with her own Peace Corps experience. Together, she and her students created a two-semester course in which they learned about Haiti, the language, international development, and different sectors of development. That January, they traveled to Haiti, where, alongside Peace Corps volunteers, they used skills learned from the fall semester to address the needs of the community.

In the spring, back at MIT, they worked on developing technologies to meet some of those needs. “It’s always been a very important part of our ethos to really understand the people who we’re working with and the context in which we are working,” Smith says. “Our goal is to create technologies that can improve the lives of people who live in poverty, develop them into either successful businesses or successful projects, and then build and disseminate those things at scale.”

Read the complete article, "International Development Through Dialogue, Design, and Dissemination"