Student Projects Inspire at the D-Lab Showcase

Published in May 2012 D-Lab Digest by Rebecca Smith, D-Lab Fellow

D-Lab ShowcaseOn Saturday, May 12, it was standing-room only at the MIT Museum as D-Lab students, instructors and friends filled the MIT 360 Presentation Space for the annual D-Lab Spring Showcase. After a welcome by Amy Smith, D-Lab's founder and co-director, who introduced newcomers to D-Lab and explained the significance of this 10th anniversary-edition Showcase, instructors briefly described each of the D-Lab's six courses offered in Spring 2012.

New courses D-Lab: Biodiversity and D-Lab: Supply Chains made their Showcase debut, with D-Lab: Design, Disseminating WASH Innovations, Energy, and Health returning. D-Lab prides itself on a unique approach to hands-on experiential learning and real projects, and the different courses each had their own spin. D-Lab: Health, for example, encouraged all of their students to explore how to 'design for hack' and create a modular kit that would allow users to swap in locally available parts, try out other configurations for the device, and generally feel empowered to adapt and innovate!

Students followed their instructors' introductions with one-minute teaser presentations for the semester's 26 individual and group projects, providing context for the problem their project addressed and a glimpse at their work and proposed solution. (Several students made repeat appearances, as they were enrolled in two D-Lab classes during the spring semester!) Hearing about 26 unique and innovative projects in such a short amount of time was slightly overwhelming - in a stimulating and exciting way, of course! Following the presentations, attendees spread throughout the first and second floors of the museum to view posters and prototypes first-hand and chat with students about their semester-long efforts. For example, on the second floor, rides were had on the Nakasa Rickshaw, a narrow rickshaw designed for use in Dhaka, Bangladesh by students in D-Lab: Design. Meanwhile, back on the first floor, people could make their own juice or water packs using the newest version of an orange juice sealer that a D-Lab: Energy team designed this year, building on last year's work.

A great time was had at the Showcase, and the hard work from our students was clear both from the functioning prototypes and other impressive outputs and from the collective sighs of relief marking the end of the semester! Stay tuned for updates over the summer as students continue project work with their community partners in the field.