Products for Underserved Communities
How can #ProductsChangeTheWorld?
In the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, we are committed to changing the world through products that help the most vulnerable communities.
Products for Underserved Communities is a new effort developed in response to the passion students have to make the world a better place. Natural disasters and human conflict produced 134 million people in need in 2018. Often these people find themselves without infrastructure, water, food, or other necessities and are dependent on humanitarian organizations, like the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) the world’s largest humanitarian organization, to provide basic needs.
The engineering requirements for products in these situations vary greatly from those used in highly developed communities due to logistical constraints, limited financial, material, and human resources, and cultural and social considerations. We are partnering with the IFRC, and their engineers are providing invaluable information on needs and design considerations so that these products can be impactful for communities in need.
We want to provide safe water, create clean and healthy surroundings, improve health and hygiene, and increase the safety for women and children by developing new products. Our teams have already produced concepts for products that will change the world:
A water filter with no replaceable parts
A biodigestor to more efficiently degrade latrine waste
A press to remove excess water from latrine waste so that it will dry more quickly
A device to fabricate customizable feminine hygiene products
This project won the President's Award for Global Learning. A multi-disciplinary team will use this device to fabricate customizable sanitary pads and test them in collaboration with the Lebanese Red Cross in Beirut in summer 2019!
Future projects: Solar-powered “minimal” lighting for latrines, sensors to transfer information from remote locations
With your help, we can build prototypes, test our products, and change the world!