Student team develops $20 solar lamp for remote parts of India
A week ago, during the all-day Saturday session, ten student teams demonstrated projects they had been working on for three months. Their assignment had been to design a new product with no more than 10 parts and build a prototype. It also had to relate to one of this year’s class themes: green living, global health, and clean transportation. Each team got $1,000 to spend. One of the teams came up with a small, affordable and rechargeable lamp.
The lamp, priced at $20, can be sited on the floor, hang from a peg on a wall, and be carried like a flashlight or worn around the neck. It can withstand drops to the floor and is easily taken apart to be fixed if something goes wrong. Designed to be recharged at a solar generating station, it is strong enough to read by or to light up a room. It holds a charge for eight hours.
Dubbed “Enlight” by a seven-person team of students from MIT and Rhode Island School of Design that created it, the lamp could eventually be used by millions of people in remote parts of India. The student team will present its prototype to one of India’s largest non-governmental organizations, the Energy and Resource Institute, which will consider using Enlight or the concepts behind it in plans to light some 40,000 villages.
“There are 67 million households in India that don’t have proper lighting and use open fires or kerosene, which is unhealthy, unsafe, and inadequate,” said Lennon Rodgers, an MIT Engineering student and a member of the team that developed Enlight. The product, he said, is “versatile, rugged, low cost, small in size, low in weight, and bright enough to satisfy all their needs.”
Rodgers and his teammates unveiled Enlight during the recent final presentations of the Product Design and Development class run by Steven Eppinger, professor of management science and engineering systems at Sloan School of Management. Prof. Warren Seering of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Matthew Kressy of the Rhode Island School of Design co-teach the course with Eppinger. Most who take the course are either Sloan MBA students, MIT engineering graduate students, or undergraduates in industrial design at RISD.
This is a great way to encourage cooperation and communication among students in order to make better products. The RISD students know how to design the product, while the MIT engineering students can make it, and the Sloan students can determine how to turn it into a business.