Appropriate Technology Design, Spring 2020 NEW

Appropriate Technology for the World’s People, Design

Cross listed: UNIV-392/492, PSC-392/492, HNRS-392

MW 4:10-5:30

Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly PhysicsPete’s

Office Hours: TBD

See information from Design, Spring 2019,  Design, Spring 2018 and from other previous classes.

Activities are listed on modules by week. Course expectations can be found on the Syllabus.

Final Presentations: Tuesday, June 9th, 10 AM – 1 PM

Self-Intervention Pages: In order to better understand change and the human being, we impose changes on our own lives and investigate the response.
1st self intervention: Don’t Throw Anything Away.
2nd self-intervention: Empathy Self-Intervention,
3rd self intervention: Intervention of choice in two parts: for yourself and for the planet.

Grade determined by weekly assessments, participation, and projects.

Feedback from you: 

Please see the links below to the possible projects. During your projects, you will develop a new webpage and send me the link to put into this table. For more information, please see some of the links below and read over the projects from last year’s class and the development class from last fall, 2018, and from earlier years on the Appropriate Technology Website.


Project # Description of the topic Members_Contact_info
#1 Our project is to build an insulated solar electric cooker to address the health and environmental issues due to biomass cooking in Nepal.  We are partnering with Tashi Ghale, a Nepali student with a direct connection to the people in Nepal. Past websites: Solar Cooker Immersion Heater, SunToSupper
#2 Insulated Solar Electric Cooking Research. Our target communities are in Ghana, and our correspondents are Martin (Osei) and Martin (Kwek). Our particular innovation is thermal storage capacity and phase change materials, though we may be interested in pursuing something slightly different. Past websites: Thermal Storage Cooking, ISEC Malawi, SunToSupper
Another cooking project? Owen?
#3 Ghanaian main dishes are organized around a starchy staple food such as yams, with which goes a sauce or soup containing a protein source. Along with this is Garri, which is a version of fast food for Ghanaian people that they eat on a daily basis. Using our Ghana contact of Eben, we plan to create a fast, cheap, and easy way for the people of Ghana to cook Garri along with their favorite stews. Past websites: ISEC in Ghana
#4 Building on our Insulated Solar Electric Cooking Research, our group has a personal challenge to develop an efficient and effective component for a solar kitchen for  Quail Springs, an intentional permaculture community an hour inland from Santa Barbara. We are helping (the super wonderful) Jan Smith ( design and build a stove component for their solar cooking kitchen. Past website: Solar Electric Kitchen, SunToSupper
#5 There is need for improved sanitation in Agbokpa, a village in Ghana we visited last summer. Ellia will be your correspondent. Past website:  Sanitation in Agbokpa, Ghana
#6 We’re presently in great need of medical and protective equipment. People are making protective gear for nearby hospitals with sewing machines and 3-D printers. You will identify local needs and local resources and find a way to contribute to your community. Clint Slaughter is a SLO emergency doctor and founder of the SLO MakerSpace. Jackie Schwartz is my mama, isolated at home in Phoenix, pumping out protective masks on her sewing machine for my (obstetrician) sister .
#7 Insects are good to eat, inexpensive to breed and cause very very little environmental impact. You will grow some insects and eat them. Past website: New Website Meal Worms Meal Worms for Meals
#8 We are working to identify a sustainable solution that will effectively store food against pest and rodent intervention and relative humidity as high as 90%. By achieving this, we can reduce aflatoxin (mold) contamination post harvest. Spring 2017, a group worked on a Flour Container with Peggy C. Papathakis (Food Science and Nutrition, Cal Poly). Feedback from both Peggy and Mark Manary (the Peanut Butter Project) indicated that this is a good direction. Spring 2018, a group determined that high end, ultra low humidity storage is cost prohibitive: Food Storage. However, our summer research indicates that this high-tech, expensive technology is wholly unnecessary. Past website:Food Preservation
#9 Explore local infrastructure vulnerabilities. What will you do if the electricity goes out? Food supply lines are interrupted? Loss of water or gas? What are you doing to protect from that?
#10 Build a solar water heater for a target community in Uganda… or your house. Currently, one community spends on average $600 a month heating up water to cook (beans? Or rice i forget). With a simple mechanism that costs less than $50, we will be heating up water using the sun’s energy to allow the community to start their cooking day with preheated water. Although it’s hard to get it to boiling using the materials we will be using, this community can start their day with water preheated to about 60 degrees celsius, saving them $ hundreds per month for cooking. Past websites: Uganda Solar Water Heater
#11  Grow as much food as you can at your home. What are some of the challenges you face? Exacerbated by the Coronavirus crisis?


Building on our Insulated Solar Electric Cooking Research, your group has a personal challenge to cook as much of your food as possible this quarter with a technology that you build and innovate. Your target community is Malawi, collaborating with Kuyere. Your particular innovation is baking. We will soon have a contact for the development shop for Kuyere, and please contact as soon as you can, Matt Walker ( who wrote the third report on the research website posted above. Tuesday Shop   Building on our Insulated Solar Electric Cooking Research, your group has a personal challenge to cook as much of your food as possible this quarter with a technology that you build and innovate. Your target community is in Nepal, collaborating with Tashi Ghale, a Nepali Cal Poly student (please contact at You will design and build a cooker you find most appropriate. Monday Shop Associated with Insulated Solar Electric Cooking Research, you will design and build a lighting system that is charged from a USB port powered by the cooking technologies that other groups are developing. Another USB port will charge cell phones. Working with Kuyere in Malawi. Contact Robert Van Buskirk ( of Kuyere and from Peter Keller ( of Aid Africa to learn more about Malawi, and Matt Walker ( who wrote the third report on the research website posted above. Also, please see this publication illustrating how important charging capacity is for use of cookers. Last year’s project may be helpful: Cell Phone / Light Charger. Additionally, a group of 4 electrical engineering students wrote a Report on Solar Charging for EE413, an advanced design class. Monday Shop


Notes on Course Improvement