Weekly Blog Post 4

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. 

 

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

 

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.

 

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

My friend Ami made me aware of the fact that a lot of towns in Japan have public baths. Evidently they have community bathing sites open to the public.

My friend Jack told me that in China any shows or films that feature time travel are censored. I was aware that China censored their media, however I did not realize it was so specific.

Tri told us in our group meeting that the number of people killed by coconuts falling on their head is greater than those killed by shark attacks. 

Weekly Blog Post 3

List the top 20 questions your team needs to answer to advance the venture forward. Categorize the questions if necessary.

  1. What are we impacting?
  2. How are we impacting?
  3. Where/why are we impacting?
  4. What makes copra so important?
  5. How many lives can we impact?
  6. How will our work have an impact outside of the Philippines?
  7. What are the different ways we can have an impact?
  8. How do we make our impact sustainable?
  9. How do we quantify impact?
  10. Can we generate a negative impact as well?
  11. Will the people in the Philippines be open to our ideas?
  12. What we 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 these people?
  17. How personal is the process to them?
  18. How do adjust our solution to their culture?
  19. How can we make people happy?
  20. How can we improve ourselves through this project?

Develop and Visualize the Theory of Change (Logic Model) for your venture.

Inputs Activities Output Outcomes
  • Money
  • Time
  • Knowledge
  • Expertise
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Partners
  • Research
  • Prototyping
  • Designing
  • Networking
  • Field work (visiting farms)
  • Educate
  • Propose Ideas
  • Consistency in quality of copra
  • Maximized use of the entire coconut
  • Value-added products from coconuts
  • Increased nutritional value in copra
  • Reduced coconut waste
  • Social venture focused on introducing and implementing sustainable, state-of-the-art copra processing methods to copra farmers
  • (Short term) – Knowledge and awareness of current drying processes and their shortcomings
  • (Intermediate) – Reduced used of popular sun-drying and smoke-drying methods
  • (Long term) – Elevate the livelihoods and increase income for copra farmers

– Clearly list all assumptions.

  • Assume our project will be successful
  • Assume we will finish the research by this spring semester
  • Assume that we will have a design/prototype by the end of the summer
  • Assume that we can collaborate well with the UPD partners 
  • Assume that we can interview copra farmers
  • Assume that we can adapt to a different culture and time zone
  • Assume that we have four potential pathways to address the problem

– Identify short-term and long-term success metrics.

Short term: Reduced inconsistency in copra quality (overall quality increase).

Long term: Economic growth. Increased income for copra farmers.

– (Optional) identify specific methods to measure the metrics.

  1. Design, energy efficiency, and sustainability of the processing technique
  2. Amount of high-quality copra that can be produced using new methods
  3. Amount of additional income that can be generated for copra farmers

Weekly Blog Post 2

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

 

Filipinos are considered to be high context communicators. That is, confrontation is avoided as much as possible; instead of being direct and straight to the point, individuals will imply what they mean to say. When we are in the country conducting fieldwork we will have to learn to gauge this and understand what people are really trying to say

Filipinos’ concept of time is different than that of most western countries. They work on a polychronic schedule, meaning performing different tasks concurrently is normal. This means that they like to keep their schedules loose and open to change. We’re going to have to consider this when we are scheduling meetings, whether it be in person or over the phone, in the Philippines.

Filipinos have a strong sense of social propriety. They try to avoid doing anything that will cause any sort of shame to their bloodline. This entails conforming to society’s standards. Our project revolves around fundamentally changing the way people process their coconuts. Obviously, we will have to carefully maneuver this strong sense of social propriety when attempting to get people to use whatever solution we propose.

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

 

To some degree, I think everyone has some sense of social propriety. No one wants to be the odd one out; we all buy in and conform to society’s standards in some way. When smartphones became a mainstream product, it took my dad years to cave and switch from his flip phone to an iPhone. He waited so long to buy his first iPhone that when he did so he was already multiple generations behind. Regardless, he bought an iPhone because eventually it became outright embarrassing to have a flip phone in today’s society. It just goes to show that even my dad, whom I consider to be a very stubborn individual, has a sense of social propriety.

It’s tough to find a place in the United States where the concept of time is fundamentally different. I worked the last two summers in the remote wilderness of northern Maine. People up there have a very skewed sense of time; they work on their own clocks and have very fluid schedules that are always subject to change. It can be incredibly frustrating to plan meetings with individuals like this.

People avoiding confrontation is something I see nearly every day – at school, at work, or in social situations. Saying “no” to someone can be difficult or awkward, and instead of saying it outright, we often attempt to soften the impact; most people seem to practice it in some way. Saying “No” to people can be difficult and instead of saying it outright, attempting to say it in a softer way is only natural. 

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

 

Educated individuals are highly respected in the Philippines. They see education as a way to greatly improve their status in life and their social standings. Though age and experience is more highly valued, this respect indicates a willingness to learn from and work with individuals who have been educated. I think that this will become very important when it comes time to introduce whatever solution we present. How we propose implementing our discoveries and recommendations will be a crucial part of generating sustainable impact, and gaining their respect as students will go a long way toward getting them to consider and hopefully accept our ideas.

Filipinos value their work highly. Just like in the United States, Filipinos take pride in a job well done. Given that our project is focused on streamlining the process of coconuts (essentially maximizing the production of well processed copra), perhaps individuals will be more open to our ideas. The hope is whatever solution we come up with will appeal to them due to the scope of our project.

Coconut farms in the Philippines are often small to medium sized, which should work to our advantage. It would be more difficult to communicate with and persuade large corporations, who produce in bulk and are set in their ways, to change how they process their most profitable product. Dealing with small, family owned farms should, in theory, be much more reasonable. It’s our hope that they will be more open to hearing and then implementing our ideas related to efficiency.

Weekly Post 1

Why did you enroll in this course?

I want to apply the skills and techniques I’ve learned over the past two years on a project that generates a positive global impact. As a junior my coursework has become more project based. I’ve had the opportunity to take a few design classes on mountaintop, where I had to create both two and three dimensional projects with my bare hands. I’ve been practicing my computer aided drawing skills to design and create parts for various engineering projects. I enjoy making things. I enrolled in this class because I want my work to be for more than just a grade, and I see this fellowship as a perfect way to achieve that goal. It is also a good opportunity to sharpen my public speaking skills, which admittedly need some work.

 

How do you envision this course making you a better () student?

Since day one as an IDEAS major, Professor Best has really hammered home the idea of being conscious of what you’re working on and how it may affect society. We’ve studied case study after case study, observing and questioning decisions that were made by engineers prior to a disaster. Situations such as the Bhopal disaster or the Challenger rocket explosion almost always lead to the question: “To what extent is the engineer responsible?” Obviously the answer to this question varies case by case, however, it really makes me think about what kind of engineer I want to be, or more specifically, on what kind of projects I’d like to work. 

I’ve been studying both mechanical engineering and design as an IDEAS major for the past couple of years, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t necessarily want to design and create for just any company or corporation. I’d like to work on projects that I actually care about, which I believe will make me a much more passionate engineer and designer. I think this course will project me into the professional world as a more compassionate person – more of a humanitarian than I was two years ago – in addition to improving my teamwork and public speaking skills. I think this course will help shape my IDEAS major, and force me to continue to ask important questions. If nothing else, I will become a better engineer and designer through real world practice.

 

The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people who need eyeglasses do not have access to them. The vast majority of these people live in developing countries like Kenya where there is barely one optometrist per one million people. Given the high poverty levels, access to eyeglasses is almost nonexistent. Lack of proper eyeglasses severely impacts people and their livelihoods by decreasing their productivity at work, limiting or eliminating new opportunities, affecting their quality of life, deteriorating their general health and possibly leading to (preventable) blindness. What solution do you propose to address this problem?

There are a few glaring issues that need to be solved in order to fix this problem. First of all, there is not enough awareness and funding for this medical issue. People are more likely to donate their money to help fight killer diseases such as AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis. Even with the proper funding, systems need to be put in place in these developing countries in order to get eyeglasses to the people living there. 

According to EYElliance, a nonprofit committed to raising money for uncorrected vision, only $37 million (US), approximately one percent of all resources used for global health issues, was spent on providing developing countries with eyeglasses. EYElliance is a multi-sector coalition that works to access and educate impact investors, sector donors, foundations and governmental organizations in order to provide more funding for this serious world problem. In 2016 they, in cooperation with the Liberian government, started a campaign to provide nationwide eye care through schools and community health workers. They started a national school eye health initiative and established a referral network driven by Liberia’s community health workers. The plan, once fully operating, is expected to see the screening of 1 million primary and secondary school students, as well as 1.2 million Liberians living in remote communities, to provide those in need with glasses.

The solution I propose would be similar to the way EYElliance is tackling this problem. Increasing awareness for this issue seems like a surefire way to raise funds and would be the first step in the process. Blindly throwing money at a problem doesn’t fix it, however. In order to make sustainable progress on this issue, the government needs to step in and provide systems such as those issued by Liberia to their citizens. EYElliance approached the situation very practically; they were able to gain the support of both the government and its health network, and are now on track to correct the vision of millions of children in the country. I think a key to resolving problems such as this one is to utilize companies like EYElliance, who have the power and ability to not only provide funding, but to also ensure that the funds are used appropriately.

Sources:

Jacobs, Andrew. “Global Need for Eyeglasses: The Biggest Health Crisis You’ve Never Heard Of.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 5 May 2018, www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/new-focus-on-global-need-for-eyeglasses/.

“Glasses Change Lives.” EYElliance, 6 May 2018, eyelliance.org/more/.