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.

1 Comment on Blog Post #4

  1. lef219
    February 17, 2020 at 8:59 pm (11 months ago)

    Nice discussion of your design process – I like that you distinguished between designing for the purpose of creating a new technology and designing for the purpose of improving livelihoods – perhaps designing new technology along the way.

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