Why did you enroll in this course (motivation, prior interests)?
Doing good work does not ensure the work is impactful. I have already done plenty of good work for the betterment of health. However, these projects only result in posters and publications, which are important, but they do not directly benefit anyone. I crave something with a larger, more tangible impact outside of the frequently secluded universe of academia. I want to work on a project that I believe is working towards a more grandiose goal and one which has a force pushing towards this goal with real world deliverables. Ukweli satisfies this craving for me with its goal of ending maternal mortality. Also, I enjoy learning new skills and being thrown into the fray. This project gives countless opportunities for me to learn about things which I have zero experience. I am slightly concerned, but also excited to learn about systems engineering, marketing, and other business aspects of the project. Also, even though I am standing on the shoulders of giants I hope to make significant progress in advancing the project to expand into other countries and continue to improve the systems which are in place.
How do you envision this course making you a better () student?
I envision this will make me a better student by breaking down the walls of the box that years of education has built around me. This freedom will allow me to approach every problem from now on with a new, broader perspective. Challenges which one seemed impossible will be possible for me. Even though most of college is self-driven, this project takes this up a notch and has real world implications if I don’t complete the task and it does not matter the amount of effort I put in because in the end the task is still left incomplete. This will help me continue to improve my time management and become acclimated to real world pressure. My hope is that this project and the learning curve that comes with it will help me improve my resilience. In the past, I have dedicated myself to solving difficult problems, but I always had the comfort of being able to find the answer and work backwards if I got stuck. This project has no answer key and there are infinite ways to achieve a goal and the only way to find out if it’s a good plan is to put it into action. Another thing which I think this project will improve is my teamwork with people from very different backgrounds. Since I am encountering most of what I am doing for the first time asking for help is essential. Lastly, I believe this course will make me a better student through the connections I make with professors and other individuals who I normally would not have contact with.
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?
The solution to this problem was developed a few years back by Josh Silver who invented a pair of plastic glasses with lenses that consist of a thin membrane which contains water instead of a lens which must be ground to specific specifications. Using the magnifying capabilities of water they function as a normal pair of glasses would. Due to the materials these glasses are a fraction of the price of normal glasses and since each pair is the same and only requires an adjustment of the amount of water which is present in the lenses they can be mass produced on a massive scale. Additionally, this solution also addresses the problem of the lack of trained specialists and proper medical facilities. These glasses are inherently able to be adjusted by any layperson. In contrast to normal glasses which cannot be easily altered and requires special tools to find the correct prescription, these glasses are much more simple. They only require a screwdriver and a syringe and there is no need to have one’s eyesight measured because water is just added or removed until the wearer sees the most clearly. In order to make this product more sustainable the factories should be located in country. Due to the low technical requirements to produce them all that is needed is electricity and water. This also presents an opportunity for employment of locals, making buying the glasses without relying on donations possible. Additionally, providing employment will increase the standard of living, thereby improving many other factors of life as well such as housing, food, and medical treatment. In order to jumpstart this an initial fund must be generated to construct the factory and provide the raw materials needed to make the glasses. The glasses can be sold anywhere and help generate income while also improving the quality of life of many.