Humanitarian Product Design
HPD is a design course offered to all majors. Students are broken into teams, and each team works independently to develop a product that could be implemented in refugee camps around the world. Projects are inherited and improved over the course of several semesters; each team works on a product for two semesters at a time. Currently there are four teams in HPD: Team Biodigester, Team Dewater, Team Lighting, and Team Pad.
Who We Are
We are a group of interdisciplinary engineers. Each of us brings a variety of skills and experiences to the table. We use our expertise and perspectives to approach problems from several angles. We work directly with the International Federation of the Red Cross to better understand the needs of the communities we are trying to serve. The IFRC provides us with guidance in several areas such as product requirements, available materials, and ways to design our products to make implementation feasible.
Cox Bazaar is the worlds largest refugee camp, and with only 10.7 m2 per person in the camp sanitation is a big issue. The goal of Team Biodigester is to optimize systems that are currently in place. By maintaining an elevated temperature of 35-40oC waste can be broken down significantly faster. We use solar collectors to heat water in external tubing, and temperature sensors to monitor the condition of the biodigester. When internal temperature drops below an optimal level, water is pumped out and replaced by the hot water. This system needs to be made to evaluate solar radiation levels, and new ways to retain heat are being explored.
Similar to Team Biodigester, Team Dewater is looking to solve the problem of waste management in refugee camps. The goal is to design a product that can separate liquid and solid waste, while maintaining the dignity of workers. Separating waste leads to more efficient methods of disposal, and improves quality of life for refugees by decreasing the risk of disease. The system is currently being redesigned to test a different method of separation.
Team Lighting is focused on making refugee camps safer at night. The goal is to create a solar powered minimal lighting system that's meant for latrines. This would not only allow people to find and safely access latrines, but also create a safe environment to combat sexual violence. This is the first generation of the project, and the main focus is to create and test prototypes.
Meet our team: Stefanie Thompson, Seema Kulkarni, Alan Hash, Andrew Bacon, Osiel Maldonado
Team Pad is creating a pad press machine that will allow women in refugee camps to make their own menstrual pads. This project will help provide autonomy to women, and make access to menstrual products more consistent. Team Pad is working to improve health and quality of life by ensuring access to pads, and potentially providing a source of income for women. This system is being made to make high quality products more consistently.
The Brackenridge Field Lab
HPD recently got it's official home. Over the past few weeks all of the teams have been working on setting up the Better Shelter (manufactured and designed by the IKEA Foundation). The idea is to create a hub that will mimic conditions typical in refugee camps. This area has limited access to water and electricity, and is of a size that may be expected in refugee camps. It allows us to better consider challenges that need to be addressed for us to have fully functional designs. It will serve as the home base and testing site for our projects, and many to come.
We Can't Do It Alone
A major aspect of HPD is teamwork. Our diverse range of disciplines allows us to bring innovative solutions to life. This course is unique in the way that it brings people together. We're always trying to come up with ways to improve the impact that our products can bring to the world.
As the course grows, so does the need for funding. Each team works independently to design and prototype their systems, and it can be a costly task. Along with this we have been developing infrastructure that will improve the quality of the course for years to come. We would be honored if you contributed to our $4,000 goal and supported this course and its mission to improve the world!