GSIF Blog Post #4: Matt Feryo

Nature is a great model, mentor, and measure for my designs and life. This is known as biomimicry. My group’s venture would definitely be able to utilize and learn from nature. If we take our project step-by-step, we first address our problem, which is the unprecedented number of children in Sierra Leone who suffer from a malnourished diet. Then, we think, what causes this malnourishment? Is it the food that is being consumed? The amount of food being consumed? In reality, there is no definitive answer, but rather a combination of all of the above. This is something that we have addressed, and that is why we have decided to create a food product to supplement the normal diets of infants. Still, an issue that we have encountered is the difficulty of retrieving clean, usable water. Women often have to travel long distances to obtain clean water, and still this water needs to be boiled to kill any bacteria that remains in the liquid. This process of boiling the water over a fire can often take from forty five minutes to an hour. So, this is a problem that I believe we can use biomimicry to potentially come up with a solution. All plants and animals rely on water, but sometimes water is not generally available. So, over time, animals and plants have adapted to overcome this issue. As an example, Cacti, which primarily grow in the desert can store water within themselves. They rely on this supply of water when rainfall becomes scarce. So, perhaps, if we were to incorporate clean usable water within the packaging, then solution to this problem would be much easier to determine.

One of “Life’s Principles” is to evolve to survive. This is something that I believe everyone does on a daily basis with or without realizing it. The word “survive” tends to carry a fairly heavy connotation, but in general adapting to your surroundings is habitual. If we focus in on our lives here, at Lehigh University, students are constantly adapting to their environment: changing their study routines, altering their schedules to account for all of their extracurricular activities, etc. Everything is done to help make us live content, happy lives.

The Cradle-to-Cradle Design means that a product should be designed to be sustainable and have a lasting impact for generations. This is incredibly important when creating a product that will hopefully be widely-distributed throughout the entire country. One way that I could see this having an effect on our malnutrition project is through the packaging. It will be important, once we develop our product, to be conscious of our packaging material. A packing material that creates a waste that is not able to be cleaned up may help address malnutrition, but would only cause more issues to deal with in the future. If we were able to create some type of package that was completely biodegradable, our product would be a success. Unfortunately, I am not sure if this is something that would even be possible. It would be something that we will have to research in the future.

I think for most people, during my first week at college, I encountered a lot of “aliens”, or things that I had never heard of or encountered before. My first example was my engineering 10 class freshman year. I walked into the class having absolutely no idea what “Matlab” or “Arduino” were. I had never written a piece of code in my life and had no idea how to start. Fortunately, after a lot of explaining from the professor and friends, I was able to learn how to code by the end of the semester. Another example of something that was foreign to me when I came to college was just about everything that I have learned through different labs. I had some minimal lab experience in high school, but nothing compared to college. I come across a different technique or tool that I have never used before everyday, and that is what I enjoy about lab! Everyday is a new adventure! Finally, another time I encountered something “alien” was when I travelled on vacation to Europe. I have been to Europe several times, and every time I go, I always try to have one meal where I order something random off the menu. This allows me to try different cultural foods that I wouldn’t be able to experience in the United States.

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