Rob Katz

Ms. Smith Goes to the BOP – To Design

Interested in design for the base of the pyramid? MIT’s Amy Smith is your kind of person. Ethan reminded me about Dr. Smith’s work designing ?really simple things needed by an enormous number of people? with his blog post from the TED Global conference in California.

I was lucky enough to meet Amy Smith about 2 years ago in Philadelphia, when my dad’s MIT alumni chapter hosted the good doctor for a talk (she was the crowd favorite, although it doesn?t take much to out-do rubbery hotel chicken). Anyway…she discussed how she and her students at the D-Lab have been doing field work at the BOP, working with communities to engineer simple solutions to complex problems. There’s her charcoal work in Haiti, as well as the work she’s done with Honduran communities to bring regular supplies of clean water to rural areas. The list goes on.

The best part about Dr. Smith’s work is two-fold: first, she emphasizes working with, not for, communities (a product of 6 years in the Peace Corps undoubtedly); second, she gets undergraduate engineers out of Cambridge and into the ?real? world, solving real problems. That might not please the Institute’s theoretical physics profs, but that’s the kind of professor that everyone would like to have. And not to go overboard, but Ethan reports that she’s working on simple technologies for microenterprise and microfinance. Can?t wait to see the results…

(Via WorldChanging)