the VOA Special English Development Report.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology has educated many exceptional minds,
including twenty-six Nobel Prize winners.
Recently an event took place at M.I.T.
to try to think of exceptional ideas for simple, low-cost devices to help the
developing world. Sixty people from more than twenty countries took part in the
International Development Design Summit.
a month this summer, they worked with volunteers from M.I.T., Olin College and
a group of companies and other schools.
were divided into ten teams. As the M.I.T. News Office reported, most of the
people had never met before. Some spoke no English. But each team had to invent
a device to solve a different problem and build a working version.
One team designed a way for people to
charge batteries while pumping water with a treadle pump. People would be producing
electricity while doing their usual daily work. Farmers in many developing
countries use treadle pumps to irrigate their fields.
energy stored in the batteries would be used to power electric lights at night.
team developed a system for making connecting blocks of earth to build walls
and buildings. Some of the bricks were designed like the Lego blocks that
Another device breaks up charcoal
produced from burned corncobs. The carbon particles can then be pressed into
small blocks and used as fuel for cooking. The M.I.T. report said this process
would avoid the releases of dangerous carbon-monoxide gas produced when
corncobs are burned whole.
redesigned a bicycle so it could be used to crush millet, an important grain in
Africa and Asia.
Another team designed a rope-and-pulley
system to transport goods up a hill from a small village factory in India to a
road. From there the goods could be loaded onto trucks.
And another team created a way to help
babies born too early in villages far from hospitals. The team developed a
simple incubator to keep them warm. The device is designed to be easily built
and repaired with materials available locally.
The International Development Design
Summit was the idea of Amy Smith. She teaches mechanical engineering at M.I.T.
This was the second year of the conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Plans
call for the third one to take place next year in Ghana.
And that's the VOA Special English
Development Report, written by Jill Moss. Our reports are online at