February 2020 archive

Blog #6

  1. Does your work require IRB approvals? If Yes, articulate your detailed IRB strategy. If No, explain why you don’t need IRB approval and identify situations when you might need IRB approval. 


We decided that our project needs IRB approval (exempt status). Specifically, our project falls into Exempt Category 2: Surveys, interviews, educational tests, and public observations.


Our project meets the definition of research; we are performing a systematic investigation which will include testing and evaluating copra dryers. While researching, we will indeed further generalizable knowledge pertaining to the coconut industry. 


In order to get a better sense of what our design really needs to be, we will be talking to and questioning human subjects. Most of the information that we will be collecting will not be personal or private; we want to know about their agricultural practices. Essentially, we want to know how they conduct their work so we can better fit our design to their needs. In order to gauge the success of our project, we may need to gather information regarding income, to measure how much additional income our processing technique is generating. We might interview Filippino family households, therefore, we might need to get informed consent. We will have to consider whether our informed consents will be conducted in Filippino instead of English and how the process of obtaining signed informed consent looks like in the Philippines.


The research we are conducting on human subjects involves little to no risk at all. The product we are designing is to be used by the people we are researching, not on them. The product causes no physical injuries or mental distress to stakeholders. 


We’ll also need to apply for Philippines Ethics Board if necessary: http://www.ethics.healthresearch.ph/index.php/phoca-downloads/category/4-neg


  1. Develop an outline for your mid-semester presentations. What supporting evidence will you provide for each point? How will you boost your credibility every step of the way?


Time: 5 minutes → Number of slides to present: <10. Number of slides to back-up for questions part: 10-15? 


Strategy: simple story, go to product quickly, make sure to build up credibility as well.




“How long does it take to dry your hair in the morning? We can all agree that the faster you can dry your hair the better. Incidentally, the same is true for drying coconut meat into copra.”

  • Connect drying coconuts with a process people do daily

[Slide 1]: Define the overall problem using facts (3.5 million coconut farmers, earn less than $2/day) – small landowner farmers aren’t making enough money

  • Explain problems with current drying techniques and how it is hurting farmers
    • The dryers being take multiple days, are susceptible to molds and bacterial growth, and produce inconsistently dried copra (facts here)
  • Explain problems with the copra/coconut market and how that is hurting farmers
    • Lack of consistency in the moisture content of copra produced by small landowner farmers is causing a lot of pricing issues, thus causing market problems (facts here)

[Slide 2]: Discuss and display potential designs/solutions – explain how our product is avoiding problems found in current drying techniques

  • Target specifications – potential prototypes that we have

[Slide 3]: Discuss partners / Stakeholders that are involved with the project: list stakeholders and emphasize on our connection with UPD (credibility boost).

  • Explain how UPD has already been doing research for half a year and has connections on the ground over there with valuable stakeholders (farmers)

[Slide 4]: Explain the potential scalability – Whatever we make in the Philippines has a high likelihood of being replicable in other coconut producing countries (fact here)

[Slide 5]: We are working closely with a group of students from UPD to design/prototype a device that processes and produces higher quality copra in the Philippines 

[Slide 6]: Introduce the team, major, name, connect experience with project

Blog Post #5

  • List ten things that make you feel human
    • Love, Although animals feel love as well a humans love is much different and it is a very powerful and dangerous thing
    • Science, the nature of science simply reminds me I’m human because of how many things makeup life and that I am just a small part of that world
    • Outer Space, mostly because my body would not be able to survive space conditions I feel human but it also makes me feel human because I can’t even wrap my mind around how big it is yet there is the possibility that there is more out there than we know of
    • Sports, sports make me feel human because of the countless mistakes and imperfections that occur during training and competition. Many times I walk away from a competition thinking if I could only have done this one thing better I would have thrown father but after all we are only human and we cant do everything right. Track specifically makes me feel human because I am a thrower and my singular goal is to throw the farthest and because I am human I can’t just walk out there and try my hardest and expect to throw far with or without training because that’s not how the human body works and it takes time and practice to execute my event properly no matter how strong I am
    • Nature (animals), because we operate differently than they do when it comes to offspring
    • Fire, we are the only species who use fire to cook and prepare food
    • Mental Health, This makes me feel human because of how far our powerful  minds can bring us up or down
    • College, the number of times I have failed miserably at this school makes me feel human because humans make mistakes and I am one that makes a lot of mistakes
    • Family,
    • weather, weather can stop us from driving cars, going to school or sports events but it doesn’t stop nature unless it is very severe
    • ocean, so much of the ocean hasn’t even been explored yet and it reminds me of how there are so many things much bigger than me
  • Articulate Your Philosophy of engagement as it pertains to your work with GSIF

Currently, majority of the copra farmers in the Philippines live on two dollars a day which is very poor. Although copra has many uses and is an expensive product the people who are providing these good somehow are very poor. This is why I should engage in developing a solution to streamline the process of drying coconuts so that farmers could yield higher quality copra while producing it at a faster rate and in-turn increase their income. Due to the cultural differences, my engagement with the Filipino people has to be well thought out. It would be ideal if I could mold myself to their culture for the time I am there so that communication will be clear and understood by both parties. It is also imperative that I am direct with the farmers I speak to while I am in-country and clearly communicate that whatever solution I am bringing to them most likely won’t immediately make their lives better or at all for that matter. The Filipino farmers and the UPD students will be the main group of people we talk to while we are in-country. For this communication to be effective I must speak slowly and refrain from slang or local terms that I use while in America. If I don’t do this I will just confuse the people I am talking to which could slow the rate of progress which we can’t afford because we will only be there for three weeks. I will face more challenges than I can imagine during this project and while I am in the Philippines. The challenges that stand out to me and are the most important is gathering useful research, communicating with Filipino people while out of the country and in-country, and making continuous progress. These challenges are important to recognize because they help to shape where the project should be going and how we should be doing it. Although there are challenges, we also have amazing opportunities. We get the chance to learn a lot about our project ourselves, other people at Lehigh as well as the Filipino culture. We also are given an opportunity to make an impact but that impact depends on how much we pour ourselves into the project. We will have the opportunity to grow as a person and develop critical skills that are not taught in the classroom and lastly, we will be able to travel to another country and learn how to work there. The approaches that are necessary during this time consist of remaining organized and being accountable, maintaining good communication with the UPD team, and adjusting to their culture to ensure efficiency.


I would hope my epitaph might read something like “Her heart was big for change and her mind filled with innovation. She left an inspiring pathway of change and a mark on peoples hearts”

Blog Post #4

1.*Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?


Our group will look to learn from and build off of other projects that have already attempted to improve the processing of copra. It has already been shown by other research groups that there is a way to improve the system that is currently being used. Where our design process will differ from these groups, however, is in the approach of the problem. Our goal is to improve the livelihood and income of small landowner coconut farmers in the Philippines. Simply designing a cutting edge, all-weather drying technique to generate more consistent quality copra (based on moisture percentage) is a major step in the right direction. However, to truly achieve our goal our product needs to do more than just produce better copra. It needs to be easy to use, affordable, and durable. Additionally, our design process will look to, in any way we can, give the smallholder farmers the ability to generate additional income other than just coconuts. We’ve looked into ways to add value to waste copra, such as copra snacks. We’re exploring ways to allow coconut farmers to add value to their finished product as well; smallholder coconut farmers usually sell raw copra, which sells for much less than refined coconut oil itself. If our product in some way enabled farmers to process their copra into a finished coconut oil product, they could feasibly earn much more for their product. 


This design process will follow a cradle-to-cradle strategy in which our goal will be for all outputs to enter into another system as inputs. In order to do so, we must change the way we view sustainable systems. In nature, the fallen blossoms of a cherry tree can be seen as waste/output or they can be seen as input for the next generation of cherry blossom trees. By applying this analogy to our project, we will plan a design process that creates economic growth rather than restricts it. Instead of minimizing consumption to create a cradle-to-grave design process, we will work to improve methods that will allow for increased consumption of coconut products while also creating a system that is sustainable. 


  1. *Identify your three most important stakeholders and list five UNIQUE attributes for each one of them. 
  1. Copra Farmers
    1. Directly using copra processing techniques
    2. Feels the effects of their business(efficient/non-efficient process)??
    3. Major Coconut producers?
    4. Will feel the direct impact of our work
    5. People that we will be working with the closest
  2. Philippine Coconut Authority
    1. In charge of developing the coconut industry to its full potential
    2. Has a say in the regulations of copra farming
    3. Is researching and trying to develop ways to increase copra quality
    4. Working to develop and expand foreign markets
    5. Works to ensure the socio-economic welfare of coconut farmers
  3. Coconut Consumers
    1. The consumption of the product keeps the farmers in business
    2. Consuming coconut products puts money back into the economy?
    3. Their needs are working to be met  
    4. Their demand quantifies the amount of copra that needs to be produced
    5. Consumerism has a major effect on the pricing of coconut goods


  1. *Identify three ways in which you will validate your project concept, technology, usability, and business model. 


“Are we building the right product…with valid requirements, features & performance?” This is the question that we should ask ourselves as we validate our project design and model. Three possible validation pathways that we come up with are:


  • Write down our basic assumptions and test: Who are our customers/consumers? Who are the stakeholders?  What problems are we solving? What is the economic problem? What is the engineering problem? Does addressing the engineering problem solves the economic problem? How does our product/design/approach solve the problem(s)? What are the key features of the products?


  • Reach out and interview our networks, including friends, mentors, investors, partners, and others for feedback. The interview questions should be (1) open-ended, (2) help uncover pain, value, or motivation, and (3) challenge our previously held assumptions. Come to the interview with a curious mindset about the stakeholder’s problems and needs instead of a sense of cursory will help us gain valuable insight.


  • Find the value(s) proposition of our product/design/approach. A value proposition is the expected gains that our customer/consumer will gain from using our product/design/approach. Values can be both quantitative and qualitative, and by thoroughly understanding and documenting these quantitative and qualitative values through the fieldwork and stakeholders interviews, we can push our design closer to the correct features, performance, functionality, and other requirements.


  1. Give three examples of something very interesting you learned from a friend that was a completely alien concept to you.

Coconuts can be used to make Vodka, as can most starchy things

Sunflowers follow the sun and if they can’t find the sun they face each other 

Fish can see colors that we don’t even know exist because of the difference in light absorbed in the ocean and their different eye composition.

Blog #3 Theory of Change( Logical Model)


  • Money
  • Time
  • Knowledge
  • Expertise
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Partners


  • research
  • prototyping
  • designing
  • networking
  • visit farms
  • educate
  • propose Ideas


  • (Down the road) Social venture focused on introducing and implementing sustainable, state-of-the-art copra processing methods to copra farmers.
  • Valued-added products from coconut (one of the options)
  • Maximize use of the whole coconut
  • Consistency in Quality of Copra (and higher quality of Copra)
  • Reduced coconut waste
  • Increased nutritional value in copra (one of the options)



  • Knowledge and awareness of current drying processes and their shortcomings


  • Reduced the popular use of sun-drying and smoke-drying methods


  • Benefit the economy and communities in the Philippines
  • Elevate the livelihoods and Increase income for copra farmers


Goals for 2020 Spring 

  • Research the current copra processing methods and their shortcomings.
  • Research current processes and innovations being employed and piloted in the Philippines and other copra processing countries such as Indonesia, India, and Brazil.
  • Research other aspects of copra processing, including stakeholders, business, and supply chain.
  • Research the state-of-the-art science and technology with a view to product/design and venture creation in the future.
  • Connect with students and faculty from the University of the Philippines.
  • A proposed design/prototype of our own processing technique
  • IRB approval


Spring 2020 Deliverables:

  • Lehigh Expo Apri
  • GSIF Presentation May 2
  • Published paper (challenges and opportunities) highlighting the current processing methods and their shortcomings/what works


Summer Mountaintop Initiative Part 1 (06/01/2020- 06/27/2020)

  • Continue Spring 2020 Research by exploring and examining the four potential pathways with regards to design, materials testing, and prototyping
  • Investigate the other three potential pathways
  • Prepare for the fieldwork


Field Tasks (06/28/2020 – 07/16/2020)

  • Collaborate with students and faculty working hands-on from the University of the Philippines
  • Conduct market research on copra supply chain and connect with smallholder coconut farmers
  • Collaborate with and form strong partnerships with coconuts industry stakeholders


Summer Mountaintop Initiative Part 2 (07/17/2020 – 08/07/2020)

  • Evaluate the fieldwork results to determine the social, economic, sustainable and environmental impact of the project.
  • Determine which potential pathway is the best to accomplish the project’s mission.
  • Continue designing and field-testing products and processes based on fieldwork results.
  • Have UPD partners test the design/process/prototype in-country and obtain their feedback during design iterations.

Blog #3 Top 20 Questions

Top 20 Questions:

  1. what are we impacting?
  2.  how are we impacting?
  3.  where/why are we impacting?
  4. what makes copra so impactful?
  5. how many lives can we impact?
  6. how will we have an impact outside of the Philippines?
  7. what are the different ways we can have an impact?
  8. how do we make a sustainable impact?
  9. can our impact be negative?
  10. how do we quantify the impact?
  11. will the people in the Philippines be open to our ideas?
  12. what will be the obstacles that prevent us from making an impact?
  13. how long until we are able to deliver impact?
  14. how will we adopt their cultural habits?
  15. what are people doing to create an impact now?
  16. who are the people creating and impact right now?
  17. how personal is the process to the copra farmers?
  18. how do we adjust our solution to their culture?
  19. how can we make people happy?
  20. how can we improve ourselves through this project?

Blog Post #2

  1. Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project.


Due to the required travel of our project, there will be cultural issues that affect our project. Since I was born in America and I have lived here my entire life there will be the potential for issues to arise once I travel to the Philippines. Before arriving I should make sure to educate myself on their culture and mold my behaviors by the time I arrive. If I do not at least demonstrate an apparent attempt to assimilate to the culture I could accidentally do something that is shameful within the Filipino culture. First of all, it is important that I am respectful to the people there, for example, showing the utmost respect for people for anyone that is older than me. Their culture is keen to respect their elders and it would reflect poorly on me and our group and potentially cause tensions that could hinder the project’s success. The communication with the locals will also affect our project due to the language barrier. It would be important for me to make sure I am speaking slowly and refrain from using slang terms to ensure clarity. Not being respectful of the fact that English is their second language would be rude and might cause even more communication problems. Another potential cultural issue could come from the fact that copra has a very traditional production process. Copra has been made for over 100 years in the Philippines and most farmers have likely grown very accustomed to producing it that way. It may be difficult to persuade a copra farmer to change his ways to a more effective method for this reason. Unfortunately, there are also rules with copra how copra is made that might not be followed due to some corruption within the Philippines. It will be important for me to do all of my work within the rules and keep myself in line. Lastly, being American can cause issues in itself. Right now, a large portion of the world does not respect us due to political decisions made by our president. He has most notably generated some turmoil with Iran who the Philippines has diplomatic relations to. This could impose some negative connotations about my character regardless of my personal views. On top of that, the difference in wealth could cause a barrier through resentment. It will be important to understand I am from a place of privilege and I am not their “savior”. Making the farmers feel as though this project is a partnership and not a rescue mission would make this trip more successful.


  1. Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least three such situations. 


I have experienced some of these aforementioned cultural issues at home due to the diversity of America. Many people within this country approach others in an ignorant manner on a consistent basis. The disconnect that exists between the different cultures within modern America accounts for the vast majority of our cultural issues. One situation I have experienced is a lack of respect for elders. Growing up I could never talk back to my mom let alone any other adult. This is a big difference from some people on campus that will talk back to their professors. Another issue I mentioned earlier that I have been in involves communication. The speed of many, but not all, Hispanic people talking is much faster compared to Americans. The language itself flows much faster and when they speak English their words still have a zip to them and I find myself asking them to repeat themselves sometimes because it can be challenging to distinguish their words. A final example of the cultural issues that I have observed are companies that are traditional refuse to change with the times. There are some famous examples of this like Blockbuster and Kodak which both happened in my lifetime. These are some huge companies that flourished in their market but couldn’t adjust to a digital age so they fell off.


  1. Give three examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to address community/market problems.


Cultural practices that can be used to address community problems are respecting and giving back to your elders, sharing among the poor and having a positive persona. The Filipino culture respects their elders which would help to bring communities together in the long run. Additionally, it is common for Filipino people to take what they are wearing and give it to a less fortunate person that is seen on the street. If we applied this with the farmers producing copra, the farmers could potentially donate to the poor. This would shine the copra industry in a good light and potentially increase the investment in the product. Making more people happy and establishing more connections while allowing more people to participate in the market would definitely be good for business. In the Philipines, it is unusual to speak negatively or complain and is highly frowned upon. Other countries should adopt this philosophy in an effort to build better communities.