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Ten teams have been assigned. Two each will visit the following five locations during the break between winter and spring quarters.

  • Rwanda and Nepal. Here, the teams will be working with Project Healthy Children, which is committed to increasing children’s dietary intake by adding micronutrients.
  • India. The teams will assist d.light, a company started from a former Design for Extreme Affordability class that seeks to provide safe and affordable lighting options for those with no access to electricity.
  • Myanmar and Ethiopia teams will be paired with IDE, an organization with the goal of ending poverty by helping subsistence farmers improve their technologies.

Equipped with the need-finding, listening, and prototyping skills learned over the quarter, each team is also asked to bring a field kit with tools that will help during meetings with their customers. With luggage space at a premium, most field kits are no bigger than a grade schooler’s lunch box. If a team is working on water-collecting techniques, duct tape, tin foil, and a Ziploc bag might be essential in trying to prototype a low-cost cistern. Professor Patell swears by a roll of duct tape and a Leatherman knife, saying anything can be done with those tools. 

The goal isn’t to build an item in the field but to induce ideas while listening to the customers. A student from a previous class bought an antique corn–shelling tool on eBay to include in his team’s field kit, although he had a hard time getting it out of the hands of the people he met in Ethiopia, as they wanted to immediately put it to use. One of the Myanmar teams in this class will be working on the possibility of introducing refrigeration technology, so it used an insulated, soft-sided lunch box to carry the contents of its field kit.

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Also on Stanford Knowledgebase:

  1. Taking the Class On The Road
  2. Extreme Affordability: Winter/Spring ’09 Journal
  3. Nailing Down a Team’s Point of View

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