The Komera Initiative : turning product design into public service
Author(s)Aust, Laura E; Rose, Zachary W; Smith, Ariadne G; Saigal, Amrita
Turning product design into public service
David R. Wallace.
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Every mechanical engineering student at MIT takes the same courses: 2.009 being one of them. In our capstone product design course at MIT, most students glean an incredible amount from their teams, mentors, and projects, then focus their efforts on slightly more pressing issues, such as graduating and finding jobs and grad school. But what if the project you found was bigger than just a course, and had the potential of improving the lives of those less fortunate than you? The Komera project creates affordable sanitary protection for women in developing countries from the locally available and all-natural fiber from banana plants. In doing so, the initiative not only empowers girls by allowing them to attend school during their periods, but also creates employment and income within their communities. Our first initial iterations of the machine to fabricate pads were created in 2.009. Previous mechanical solutions to this problem are inefficient and labor-intensive. With our prototype, we seek to reduce the labor involved and increase pad output by twofold. However, we didn't want out work to stop there. Over the course of the semester, we continued to expand the Komera project twofold: by working on the mechanical design of the product and by expanding our scope to transform the product into a public service initiative. This thesis discusses the trials and tribulations of both directions. We explore the differences and challenges in designing for the developing world within a 1 st-world product design context - paying attention to manufacturing, materials, cost, and usability. We also offer a guide through the creation of an initiative: how we took a product and turned it into an IDEAS-winning public service project. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for us, and we hope that we can inspire others to work on international development products as well.
Thesis (S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 2010.Statement of responsibility on t.p. reads: Laura E. Aust, Zachary W. Rose, Ariadne G. Smith, Amrita Saigal. Each student submitted a title page and vita. Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 87-89 ([i.e. p. -)).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mechanical Engineering., Team Komera.