Designing for a More Equitable World

Publlshed in MIT News on October 6, 2017, by Meg Murphy, School of Engineering

D-Lab founder Amy Smith teaches MIT students to tap into the heart of international development.

This October marks 15 years since Amy Smith, a celebrated inventor and educator, founded MIT D-Lab, which works with people around the world to develop practical solutions to global poverty challenges.

D-Lab classes, research groups, and programs are connected to communities in countries including Botswana, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Haiti, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and others.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Smith recently sat down with the School of Engineering to discuss her love of teaching MIT students about international development work, equitable collaboration, and life in the field.

Q: What motivates your teaching philosophy?

A: My classes focus on the theory and practice of development while equipping students with a practical toolkit for the field. We take it up a notch from lab work to experiential learning. I want students to understand the importance of water pumps because they’ve carried water on their heads. To know that sanitation is important because they’ve used a pit latrine and can appreciate how it could be improved...

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