Projects for UNIV-391 Fall 2014

Brief Description of Projects from Appropriate Technology Fall 2014

Swimming Lessons. Everyday children all over the world drown due to a lack of water safety education. In my travels (Steph), almost every family has a story of a child or a friends child that drowned while cooling off in a body of water, or worse, while fetching water out of a river for their household. This problem stems from a lack of awareness and will not be solved by designing a prototype or simply teaching people to swim. When approaching this project, think about the resources that are available and how you could equip communities with educational tools to save lives. Here is one example of an organization that is tackling this issue.
Solar Concentrators. Solar cooking is the most well established failure in development. The technology has existed for many years, but for many reasons, communities don’t pick it up. Still some communities do and it provides great advantages. My (Pete) technical research is exclusively cooking with solar concentrators
(FB CP Solar Concentrators) and we are building solar kitchens at Cal Poly’s Student Experimental Farm (SEF: FaceBookSEF). This summer, I attended a solar cooking conference with
Solar Cookers International and understand that the community is largely senior citizens, and they are angry because there is little government support for non combustion cooking methods to the point that they consider it a conspiracy of the fossil fuel industry. The party line of the powers that fund is that we shouldn’t develop solar cooking because no one in the US is willing to use it, so why should we promote it in developing countries. It’s kind of a ridiculous statement in so many levels (we don’t want to cook with cow poop either, nor twigs, and what about early adoption, etc.) Pat McArdle SCI journalist kind of documents this conflict in her video, We DO cook with Solar. Haiti, once a lush garden island is not almost completely deforested, partially in the quest for firewood. and are friends of ours living on Cal, but from Haiti. They are active in development efforts in Haiti and want to introduce solar cooking techniques. How do people in these villages live? How do they cook? What are their priorities? has a solar cooking business. He is a friend of mine, and interested to be a resource about challenges to adoption. Please read Killer in the Kitchens
From Pete after First Presentation in my opinion the focus of the project is way to technical. Above, I outlined some of the interested human challenges. You don’t have to do what I’ve recommended – this is your project. However, the direction of the work should be centered around society, human responses, cultures, politics… stuff like that. I think that part of the problem is who you are and who I am. We are all technical people with the possible exception of Garrett. We see the world through a technical lens. I apologize for not catching this sooner. I suggest that John move to a different group that could use another person with a technical perspective – and trade in someone with arts expertise. We didn’t even form groups until week 3 in the past, so switching now shouldn’t pose a problem.
This doesn’t have to happen, but I strongly encourage you to embrace some of the social, societal, political, corruption barriers to acceptance and implementation of solar cooking, or use of improved stoves. I strongly encourage you to contact a partner from the people I’ve included above, or someone else.
With it fully understood that we are not going to focus on technical stuff, let me satisfy my own technical addiction by providing some technical feedback. Distilling water requires more than 5 times as much energy as bringing it to a boil. Additionally solar cooking groups stressed that you only need a temperature of 150 F to sterilize water. Some doctors may disagree, but my guess is that for parasites, 150 F functionally does the job. So unless you have poisonous minerals in the water (see Arsenic in Bangladesh) then there is no reason to distill the water. Distilling water is profoundly more sophisticated technology than just heating it, and you would probably be able to functionally sterilize 10 times as much water as you could distill in the same amount of time – you could do it without concentrating the sun – you only need straight sunlight.
Sanitation is a major challenge in the developing world. This is exacerbated (in my, Pete’s opinion) by the status placed on resource and energy intensive technologies adopted in the US where purified drinking water is mixed with feces in order to transport it in a sewer line to a central facility. This costs about $20,000 per person in Los Osos to install. In the developing world, this isn’t going to happen. But we can easily compost poop to provide a safe fertilizer, as evidenced by the success of SOIL in Haiti. So, why don’t people do this? We read about women being Defecation Rape Murder because they have to go out in the night and poop at the edge of town. But my family has been pooping in $10 bucket toilet at Pete’s House for the past 10 years, and putting the compost and urine on the plants without a problem. Can we communicate with these folks, can we understand and accept their priorities and inquire what could be done that might work for them. One idea is to leverage Schools: see page 24 WB Poverty Document. Can we introduce these technologies at schools where kids are presently defecating in the neighbors’ yards. What if we introduced a well-organized model that really worked great. Would the kids take the knowledge home? Would the parents come in to ask questions. has worked with our class for three years, and is presently employed at a company marketing an advanced composting toilet She is interested to be a resource for this group. Additional opportunities are to look at our own home, and the obstacles to alternative sanitation systems at Cal Poly. Can we introduce a bucket toilet system at Cal Poly’s Student Experimental Farm (SEF). This is something the SEF has an active interest in. The person to contact regarding requirements for installation is Scott Loosley Lastly, Steph has spent time at Santa Margarita Lake and is very impressed with the toilets there. How about a field trip? We have a new partner in Haiti – who collaborate a bunch with SOIL in Haiti.
Menstruation in Tibet,
The practice of chhaupdi is one that dates hundreds of years. It’s a potentially deadly practice where women during their menstration cycles are consider untouchable and banished to uninsulated, dark huts until the bleeding stops. This is particularly dangerous in the societies that practice chhaupdi after child birth when it is crucial for a baby to maintain heat. Sanitation and gender roles have come into the media a lot in the last few years and this topic is a very hot button issue right now as seen in this Time article. The challenges come with the fact that remedying these practices will be changing cultural norms that are accepted and misunderstood. has worked with our class for three years, and is presently employed at a company marketing an advanced composting toilet She is interested to be a resource for this group. Look at the WASH movement and organizations associated with these initiatives.
Coffee in Haiti. Haiti used to produce 60% of the worlds coffee. Due to no environmental laws protecting this industry, deforestation has erased this chapter of Haiti’s history. There are a few organizations that aim to bring coffee groves back to Haiti and in turn provide jobs for a jobless country. was in our class several years ago. He is from Haiti and now lives in Cal. His still very involved with development efforts in Haiti – one of them is how to reintroduce the coffee business. One of the challenges is drying, so maybe we look into Solar Drying in Rwanda for some advice. For fertilizer, you can use SOIL in Haiti.
Amazon Filtration System, Lupe is a recent Cal Poly grad and is championing intending to provide clean drinking water inexpensively in developing countries. Access to clean drinking water is a crucial challenge in many developing countries. Lupe is interested to work with your group. Cal Poly Professor Ryan Walter has experience with water purification systems. Please contact him: There is also interest to have a holistic effect on the village – that is collaboratively engage them and work on the things they are concerned about. One of Lupe’s partners, Daniel Ebbs (, a Cal Poly graduate, wrote me the following, of which I understand only a little:
the CHW is the answer to address future health education/access gaps in the very rural world, and technology has been growing stronger for education, surveillance, and online protocol guidance; all of our protocols we are creating for malaria tx, ped. rehydration, osteopathic manipulations, etc. will be based on following algorithms co-designed by the communities on the tablets; we could really use help in the future to build on this program with innovative ways to educate the communities using technology; anyways, thanks for responding,
Natural Building, Sustainable Living Research Ordinance (Initiative) – The mantra is “legalize sustainability!”. Our building codes prevent alternative building techniques that could provide beautiful, functional homes inexpensively from locally available resources. Because we are not allowed to build outside the code, few people do. Because few people do, we don’t develop new codes. There are a few communities where you can find natural building that is beautiful beyond your belief until you see it, for example, two hours southeast of Cal Poly. Our friend Ben Werner is presently championing efforts to allow experimental dwellings described in Article on SLRO and Ben Werner’s Talk, and you can register for the SLRO discussion in Santa Barbara on Sept 25. Additionally, please read about some technologies: Fungus Bricks, HempCrete Video, Plastic Bricks and Mark Phillips builds with Packistan Strawbale Organization. Also, Cal Poly Professor Eltahry Elghandour, specializes in natural building fibers, and Arlin was a student of Pete’s and has started a company to make cement sponge building materials.
Improved Stoves.
Half the world’s people cook by burning biomass of some kind (please check this statistic). This presents several challenges – finding the fuel, impact on the environment, and the hazards of indoor air pollution, as described in Killer in the Kitchens. Making better, safer, more efficient stoves is big business in development, as well as studying how these stoves are accepted and used.

Our classes have some history working on stoves, both at Cal Poly’s Student Experimental Farm and with Guateca in Guatemala: Guateca Stove Project in Bolivia works with: CEDESOL Video. I have received the following information:

We have a Prakti Double Pot Wood Stove ( on loan from the German Society for International Cooperation. This stove is selling like crazy in India and helping people from Haiti to Africa. We have noticed a few issues with the Prakti stove and also aspects we would like to adopt in our redesign. I’m currently using Google Sketch Up (only Windows XP computers here) to draft a new design based on discussions David and I have had. Because I will be leaving soon I wanted to connect Cal Poly with CEDESOL. I agree, if this quarter doesn’t work we can build a relationship for the coming years. Although CEDESOL produces solar cookers the current focus is on the rocket stove redesign.

Material for UNIV-391:
– Appropriate technology and social acceptance go hand-in-hand.
– What type of stove do impoverished bolivian families want and need? High altitude climate vs. hot jungle?
– Why would an impoverished family want a nice stove over one that “just works?” What is the benefit for a family to purchase a stove rather than an organization give it to them?
– How do carbon credits work?
– How does CEDESOL train new stove owners?
– How does CEDESOL establish local entrepreneurs to assist with stove maintenance?
– What other education does CEDESOL provide to local communities?
– How does CEDESOL monitor and conduct stove surveys?
– How does CEDESOL create local bolivian jobs in the production of new stoves?

Material for UNIV-392:
– Why change the current design (pros and cons)? A conversation is needed to discuss the current stove and its limitations.
– What materials are locally available? Material selection.
– Local manufacturing? (Currently prisoners in Cochabamba manufacture many of the components for the CEDESOL stove)
– Solidworks/ 3D modeling
– Prototyping

He provides the following:

CEDESOL Rocket Stove_design review.pdfFunctional Design Review on Prakti Double Pot Wood Stove.pdf

Additionally, Jim Keese, is the co-creator of
Cal Poly Study Abroad in Peru. One of the activities is to build improved cook stoves in rural indigenous villages. Traditional stoves use open fires inside of houses. The new stoves burn wood more efficiently, thus reducing pressure on scarce forest resources. They also have chimneys that reduce indoor air pollution, with notable health benefits, especially for women and children. Working with the NGO ProWorld Service Corps, Cal Poly students have been assembling locally-designed stoves in villagers’ homes for the past eight years. However, so far there has been no follow up to see if the stoves work well or are even used. Jim is going on sabbatical this year to visit these villages and follow up on the project. His goal is to determine what factors contribute to the adoption and sustained use of the improved cook stoves.

New Aid Model, Haiti, once a lush garden island is not almost completely deforested, partially in the quest for firewood. are friends of ours living on Cal, but from Haiti. They are active in development efforts in Haiti. Eden and Karen ( have an optimistic idea about how to “save” some villages with education and improved agricultural and living techniques. This may sound naive, but isn’t it what our friend Alex Petroff did with in D.R. Congo? Is this what Haiti Communitere is trying to do? What can we learn about people and how they/we may respond to an external intervention?
Accessibility for disabilities
A few months back I (Steph) was able to speak with the co-founder of Braille W/O Borders. BWOB is an organization that works with blind sherpa kids in Tibet, teaching them how to read and move about in a world full of light. Paul told me that it isn’t the darkness that is inhibiting for blind people, it is the seeing world. Blindness is just one of many disabilities that need to be brought into the public eye in developing countries, the 15 country study is a great resource for this. More often than not when you enter a village you will never see a person with a disability, be it mental or physical. It isn’t because they do not exist. It is because they are usually restricted to a room for their entire life, often dying at very young ages. A great movement that hit the humanitarian design scene a few years ago was providing wheelchairs for those who need them most. Check out and as examples.
Famine Famine is a complex issue that can result from a number of factors. Natural disasters, war and conflict, corruption and a myriad of other problems have resulted in famines across countries. This is a very concept and people like Working Villages have taken a stab at solving this issue. Are there any programs that can be proactive in preventing famine as a result of conflict? What technologies/educational programs can be introduced after famine has struck to remedy these communities?
Refugee Management In the last 10 years, organizations like Architecture for Humanity have made a living out of creating management systems for refugees. A situation that hits very close to home is what happened after Hurricane Katrina. Where did all of those people who lost their homes in the 9th ward end up? Where are they today? In countries where conflict is the norm not the exception, like Israel, whole groups of people are left piecing together shelter. This can lead to overcrowding, seen here in Somalia, and instability and danger in other places. One area that architects can really make a difference is designing master plans for Refugee camps and designing spaces that mitigate confrontation in tight quarters (look into relief housing competitions for precedent studies on this issue). The New York Times ran an interesting article claiming that they had the formula for the perfect refugee camp. My feelings (Steph’s) is that until implemented in Chad, in Norther Uganda, in Australia and beyond, we will never know if it truly is the solution to this problem. What is your solution?
Natural Disaster Off the top of your head, what are a few natural disasters that you can think of in the last year or two? Earthquakes should come to mind (one in Chile), tsunami’s (aka typhoons, aka hurricane’s) should conjure up Katrina and the Philippines and volcanic activity (Iceland) are just a few. What are some ways that organizations like FEMA have the right intention on disaster relief but fail to deliver sufficient solutions? Is there a better model of relief aid that should be researched? Or should we focus more on preventative solutions than post-trauma treatment to these disasters?
Maternal Care Social impact design has long been an advocate for maternal care. The Maama Kit is a perfect example of how something so well accepted in our first world society can totally revolutionize a developing nation. Non-profit design houses like D-rev have been making such amazing strides on maternal and baby care that TED recently honored 5 designers that are saving babies lives with their technologies. This topic can also involve things like family planning, a great example of which can be found in Africa.
New Aid Model, Haiti, once a lush garden island is not almost completely deforested, partially in the quest for firewood. and are friends of ours living on Cal, but from Haiti. They are active in development efforts in Haiti. Eden and Karen ( are interested in supporting the
Eden Project. Pete has some difficulty with this program because it seems largely about raising money, and there are lots of examples illustrating that this doesn’t work. However, this is what Alex Petroff did with How can we interact with this organization meaningfully? How can we look at other peoples’ lives? How can we consider our own efforts to undo the damage to our own land such as the people at
Haiti Water Project. Tim Cleath, is a hydrogeologist and works in development in his spare time. He drills wells and helps people learn how to manage them. He has developed an inexpensive well driller with Cal Poly students and professors, and it is on its way to Haiti. He is working with Al,, and Karen,
Collaborative Education Development Model. Pete started Guateca in 2010 and has run the 3-month summer program in 2011 and 2012 in a mountain village at 9,000′ elevation, and is documented in a recruitment video for Guateca 2014, which never took place. How do we collaboratively study with rural Guatemalan students and families when we have to have projects that we know we must support, but experience has shown that if “we” build it for “them”, it usually isn’t used or appreciated. You will likely conduct this project in a collaborative fashion with San Pablo, and the nonprofits ARDI and FUNDAP. You will likely communicate directly with Rury, who was a student from San Pablo in 2012, and is facilitating the proposed 2015 Guateca program.
Professor Tom Neuhaus Started Project Hope and Fairness to help African chocolate farmers reap profits from their cocoa. This chocolate is sold fair trade through Mama Ganache. Farmers would gain much more profit if they processed the cocoa into chocolate instead of just selling the chocolate beans, so Tom is trying to develop chocolate production in Africa with the farmers. He’s in Africa now and writes about his efforts on the Mama Ganache Blog. Last winter, a group of appropriate technology students developed a Cocoa press for him to take to Africa as their project. Please read more about it in Winter 2014 Cocoa Press.

Building connection from Cal Poly to the Pacific Islands: Laura Hosman ( is a new professor in Political Science. she is working closely with piscespacific.organd that seek to bring communication to isolated communities, particularly in East Africa and the Pacific Islands. She has two challenges:
1) Addressing the infrastructure challenges to providing schools with communication and curriculum materials.
2) How to start a program at Cal Poly involving students that will become her personal research and service at Cal Poly, involving students who want to work with information technologies and build community with these isolated communities.