This past weekend, the 12 project teams left on their second trip to rural villages to continue their design projects. The projects generally clump into 3 areas: agriculture (better threshing for groundnuts, or removing debris from rice), energy (storage, food storage, small scale energy generation) and water/sanitation (kid friendly latrine, small scale chlorine production). Interviewing potential customers, meeting with village chiefs, weighing babies. Dawn until dark, these were long, hot, hard days, but much was learned by all, and relationships bloomed.
I was impressed by how these participants really are working on co-design: what is the problem? what do you do now?, would this work? why or why not? what would be a good way to do this in your village/on your farm? can you think about ways you could pay for this? It is a team effort with the villagers. My impression was that, at least in the villages I visited, this was not the way they were used to interacting with visitors. Villagers were excited (but also surprised) to see the teams return, and are working on things to get ready for the next visit at the end of next week.
This week has been a combination of class work on thinking about entrepreneurial business models to disseminate the products, as well as preparing for design reviews tomorrow. The tools are out, and the participants are making prototypes and concept drawings. The halls at the hostel are humming and hammering!