Friday, July 24, 2009

Suame Design Review

Today marked the first official design review of IDDS 2009. Each team was tasked with giving a presentation on their project so far, the sketches of their designs, and what they hope to build over the coming weeks. The purpose of the reviews is to give the teams the chance to get feedback on their current plans, right before they actually begin the building itself. In attendance were some of the workshop managers from Suame and some faculty engineers from the University but it was often the participants themselves who provided the advice and critique needed. Teams will take this information away with them, come up with some modifications on their design, and hopefully be building more efficient and practical prototypes next week.

Nathan Cooke, a participant, organizer and photographer at this year’s conference, remarked that the trips to Suame Magazine are the best for photo opportunities, simply because “everyone has a smile on their face”. The group descended on the ITTU in the late morning, and just about had some time for a serving of Jollof Rice, before getting the design reviews underway. The twelve project teams were split into three groups, and their reviews ran concurrently in three separate rooms. The groups went as follows:

Water, Sanitation and Health

Chlorine Dosing

Local Chloring Production

Kid Friendly Latrine

ICT Enabled Baby Monitoring

Energy and Environment

Small Scale Energy Storage

Cool Storage

Recycled Plastic Products

Portable Hydro Powered Light

Agricultural Processes

Groundnut Threshing

Cassava Processing

Rice Threshing

Shea Oil Extraction

The Kid Friendly latrine team, looking forward to their trip to Suame

Sean preps himself for the Rice Threshing presentation

Evan showcases his very own 'prototype' for the ICT Enabled Baby Monitor team

I personally sat in on the agricultural design reviews, and these were of great interest to the workshop men at Suame Magazine, as they have been involved in creating machines for increasingly the productivity of agricultural processes for decades. The experience they had to share was clear throughout the review, as they listened intently to what the teams had to say before proffering suggestions of how to improve the design.

The first team up were the groundnut threshing team, working on a mechanism for threshing groundnut’s from the plant speedily and without waste (a task that requires a substantial amount of time). They were quickly followed by the Cassava team, attempting to create a low cost machine to peel and grind Cassava, a crop common to the region. The Rice Threshing tram told the story of how they have changed from their original project of removing small stones from rice, to actually cutting off the stones at source, by coming up with a way to thresh the rice efficiently. Finally, the Shea Oil team gave us a detailed description of the time worn, arduous twelve step process that is currently used by the village women to extract the valuable oil from the nuts, before outlining their alternative, time saving method. Joe, a brilliant mechanic from the ITTU, brought out a prototype mid-presentation that he had made in line with speeding up the process. That should give the team plenty to think about over the next few days!

George Obeng introduces the Groundnut threshing team to the group

Daniel Kanter of the Shea Oil team plays around with a previous model

Later that evening, the teams had a chance to unwind at the Engineering Guest House, and catch up with each other outside of the project/work environment. We are delighted to finally have with us Ariel Phillips from Harvard University, one of the lead organizers of IDDS since its inception. Ariel became quite ill after a trip to India and it was feared she may not have been able to come to Ghana at any stage, and as such we are delighted she has finally made it here. Ariel specializes in group dynamics, something that will prove to be extremely important over the next few weeks if the teams are to create the prototypes they have put so much effort into designing!

Old friends, Sumit and Ariel, catch up

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