Monthly Archive for November, 2010

How to get started with IDEAS and Global Challenge.

There’s plenty of traffic happening over on the Global Challenge site. Here are a few key resources as you’re there:

If you’re a team, looking to enter IDEAS/Global Challenge, start here:

  1. Form a team.
  2. Submit an initial proposal and, if you need it, a development grant request. We like to say, submit early, submit often. Our team of staff is incredible at helping you think through opportunities, help as a feedback board for your proposal and connecting you with resources.
    Next submission is due December 5th.

If you’re looking to join a team, there are 13 help wanted ads that could use your skills. Teams are now recruiting! Looking for web developers, legal/IP advice, strong communicators, mentors, marketing and business skills, programmers, and more. Look for a team here.

There are 10 offers of help by people looking to be team members. Offers include, language translation, business help, mentoring, engineering, industrial design, strategy advising and more. Connect here and offer your skills here.

Perhaps you have a team, and you’re looking to find a community partner to work with and a gap to fill. We have two sponsored challenges this year: the Yunus Challenge focused on encouraging innovation in agricultural processes and the Monster Challenge, asking what information technologies can you create to connect migrant workers with needed resources? And there are six well-defined problem sets that could use teams with various skill sets — whether engineering, communications, teaching, and creativity.

While you’re there, check out the nine teams entered so far this year.

The Oscars of Innovation Are Announced

Leveraged Freedom Chair at R&D 100 Awards Ceremony

LFC Team at the R&D 100 Awards Ceremony; credit: Mario Bollini

R&D Magazine announced their top 100 winners for this year’s awards — the awards are widely recognized as the “Oscars of Innovation.”

One of the award winners and Editors’ Choice recipients was the Leveraged Freedom Chair team (IDEAS award, 2008) for their all-terrain wheelchair. From R&D’s site:

Modern electric wheelchairs are marvels of engineering, but they do not work well on rough terrain and are often unavailable to those in rural areas or developing countries. With this in mind, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Mobility Lab, Cambridge, Mass., has developed the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), which is maneuverable within the home and can travel long distances on rough roads far from urban centers.

The key innovation behind the LFC is its single-speed, variable mechanical advantage lever drivetrain. Instead of using multiple gears, an LFC user varies mechanical advantage and chair speed by sliding his or her hands up or down the levers. Changing user geometry instead of machine geometry allows the use of a simple, light-weight, low-cost, single-speed chain drive. Pushing forward on the levers provides up to a 4-to-1 mechanical advantage, and pulling back ratchets and resets the drivetrain for the next power stoke. Pulling the levers back further brings the brakes—small bars that protrude from the levers—into contact with the tires. The wheelchair can be used indoors simply by removing the levers.

Real-world performance tests yielded a propulsion efficiency gain of about 20%. The LFC has a targeted cost of about $200, far less than most commercial options, and has an open-source design to encourage investment.

Congratulations, LFC team!

Pahoehoe: 8 People x 8 Projects on Nov. 16th

Our second big event of the year is coming up. On November 16th, we’re launching the first Pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy). Perhaps you’ve heard of or been to a Pecha Kucha event or an Ignite event. We’re creating a similar movement here at MIT to bring together people innovating in the tackling of barriers to well-being with communities around the world. It’s an evening where people from around the Institute can gather, share their work, hear what others are working on and find opportunities to collaborate on IDEAS/Global Challenge projects and identify collaborators (non-MIT folks are welcome!).

Each presenter will be given 10 slides x 30 seconds per slide to present their idea and work. No bullet points. All pictures and visuals.

This round you’ll hear about a project on innovation in banking systems in Africa, a team who worked with catadores in Brazil to convert two engines to process used vegetable oil, a gentleman who’s working on a project to use GPS to track where waste pickers move trash, a team that’s working on a project to help Rwandan women have 60 more days of work or school a year by having access to affordable sanitary napkins and much, much more. Hear from teams participating in the IDEAS/GC Competition this year, past IDEAS winners, MIT Public Service Center Fellows, projects happening in D-Lab and many more. This is the beginning of a series of Pahoehoe events.

Join us for the beginning!

November 16th, 7pm
MIT’s Campus
Maria and Ray Stata Center, Building 32
Room: R&D Commons on the 4th Floor

Details here.