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 D-Lab: Development, Design and Dissemination  posted by  member150_php   on 3/6/2009  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Kornbluth, Kurt, and Amy Smith, SP.722 D-Lab: Development, Design and Dissemination, Spring 2005. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 11 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

D-Lab: Development, Design and Dissemination

Spring 2005

A large plastic drum connected to a bicycle pedal assembly.

A prototype pedal-powered washing machine is one of the student projects for this course. (Courtesy of Radu Raduta and Jessica Vechakul.)

Course Highlights

This course features student design projects, with videos of design review sessions and final team reports, plus a complete set of lecture notes.

Course Description

D-Lab: Development, Design and Dissemination is a design studio course in which students work on international development projects for underserved communities. The class is focused on a participatory, iterative prototyping design process, with particular attention on the constraints faced when designing for developing communities. Students work in multidisciplinary teams on term-long projects in collaboration with community partners, field practitioners, and experts in relevant fields. Students will learn about their partner communities through the collaborative design process and be exposed to many hands-on fabrication and prototyping skills relevant to development at MIT and manufacturing in their partner community. The course will consist of hands-on labs, guest speakers, and a guided design process with review by experts and professionals in development and design. This course builds on SP.721, although that course is not a required prerequisite.

Special Features

  • Student projects

Technical Requirements

Microsoft® Excel software is recommended for viewing the .xls files found on this course site. Free Microsoft® Excel viewer software can also be used to view the .xls files. RealOne™ Player is required to run the .rm files found in this course.


About D-Lab

D-Lab is a course sequence in technologies for international development. For the 2004-2005 school year, D-Lab is a combination of two courses plus supplemental field trips. The fall class, SP.721, provides a basic background in international development and appropriate technology through guest speakers, case studies and hands-on exercises. This course SP.722 is the second in the sequence, and offers experience with product design, prototype fabrication and testing in a participatory development context.

Course Goals

  • To develop technical solutions for underserved communities
  • To practice creative design in a real-world context
  • To learn hands-on prototyping and manufacturing skills
  • To develop problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • To recognize the potential impact of engineers in the world

Teaching Staff

In addition to lead instructors Amy Smith and Kurt Kornbluth, the following people assist as project mentors and teaching assistants:

Allen Armstrong

Stephanie Dalquist

Will DelHagen

Erica Fuchs

Leo Burd

Kate Steel

Matt Orosz

Required Text and Readings

The required text for this class is:

 Weisman, Alan. Gaviotas. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 1999. ISBN: 9781890132286.

In addition, several articles and readings from other sources will be distributed in class.

Group Meetings and Weekly Updates

The Friday sessions will be largely dedicated to group work and will begin with a brief report to the class on the week's progress. Each group will have three minutes to present and there will be two minutes for feedback from the class. Groups will also need to schedule time for meetings outside of the class session.


This is a nine-unit class: four hours a week will be spent in class and the remaining five hours will be spent doing the readings and homework and working on the design projects, both individually and in groups. Because much of the work for this seminar will be done during class time, attendance is essential. Students missing a class meeting should contact the instructors to make up the work. Students may not miss more than two classes during the semester. This seminar is graded on a A/B/C/F basis, furthermore it is a class where your work is impacting the lives of people around the world and we expect an appropriate level of commitment.

Class Participation and Attendance 10%
Weekly Updates 10%
Homework Assignments 15%
Design Notebooks and Assignments 25%
Final Design/Prototype 15%
Presentations 25%


SP.722 meets three times per week. In a typical week, there are two full-class Lecture sessions, and one Project session in which students work in their teams on problem definition, design and fabrication tasks.

Lec # Topics instructors key dates
1 Introduction: Design for Developing Countries Amy Smith  
2 Design, Invention and the Design Process Amy Smith Homework 1 due
3 Design Challenge Project Presentations Amy Smith and project leaders Design assignment 1 due one day after LEC 3
4 Stakeholder Analysis Amy Smith Homework 2 due
5 Library Research Methods Darcy Duke and Angela Locknar, MIT Libraries Design assignment 2 due
6 Design Specification Kurt Kornbluth  
7 The Creative Process: Prototyping Lab Kurt Kornbluth Design assignment 3 due
8 Project: Brainstorming Techniques Will DelHagen Design assignment 4 due

Design assignment 6 due

Design assignment 7 due
9 Lab Modules Various  
10 Lab Modules (cont.) Various  

Team Status Reports

Project: Brainstorming

  Design assignment 8 due
12 Lab Modules Various  
13 Lab Modules (cont.) Various  

Concept Evaluation and Pugh Charts

Project: Brainstorming and Evaluation

Amy Smith Design assignment 5 due

Design assignment 9 due
15 Project Planning and Management Linda Plano  
16 Graphical Representation of Information

Presentation Skills
Amy Smith

M. J. Morse, Museum of Science, Boston
Design assignment 10 due
17 Project: Detailed Design and Analysis    
18 Design Review #1 Presentations    
19 Design Review #1 Presentations(cont.)

Guest Lecture: The Inventing Process

Dean Kamen, DEKA

20 Design for Affordability Amy Smith  
21 Gaviotas Discussion

Haitian Agriculture
Stephanie Dalquist, MIT

David Dougherty, ORE
22 Design for Reuse and Recyclability

Project: Materials Selection
Amy Smith Design assignment 11 due
23 Project: Final Concept Selection    
24 Co-Evolutionary Design: Arsenic Water Filtration Susan Murcott, MIT  
25 Team Status Reports

Technologies for the Poor
Job Ebenezer, Messiah College  
26 Project: Design Task Breakdown   Design assignment 12 due
27 Case Study: Affordable Eyeglasses Saul Griffith Design assignment 13 due
28 Case Study: Intraocular Lenses in India Joel Segre, Project Impact  
29 Project: Fabrication and Testing    
30 Economics of Production Erica Fuchs, MIT  
31 Project: Fabrication and Testing   Design assignment 14 due
32 Design Review #2 Presentations    
33 Design Review #2 Presentations(cont.)    
34 Project: Feedback from Design Reviews    
35 From Prototype to Product: Kinkajou Case Study Allen Armstrong  
36 Design for Assembly Amy Smith Design assignment 15 due
37 Practice Museum of Science Presentations    
38 Museum of Science Presentations    
39 Wrap-up Discussion    
40 Evaluations   Final report due   Tell A Friend