20090410-stanford-monsoon-capture1Stanford’s d.school design institute has just published the winners of their quarterly d.prize competition, recognizing the top 4 student projects of the term. The best aspect of the submission process is that teams must write their entries in haiku form.

capture a monsoon,
don’t only collect water,
build an “extreme” team.

20090410-stanford-monsoon-capture2A project called “The Deathstar” won this year’s monsoon challenge from the Design for Extreme Affordability class. This challenge gives teams 48 hours and $20 to design and build a device to maximize the capture of rainwater from a simulated monsoon.

Team Deathstar took advantage of the fact that the “monsoon” comes from a set of sprinklers mounted on a ladder; their solution surrounded the sprinklers and captured water from all 360 degrees, draining through a gutter system to a collection receptacle. Not exactly an option in a real monsoon, but the team did demonstrate innovative thinking. The video proves that they accomplished the third requirement of the competition: have fun!

20090410-social-design-awardsNominations for The Tech Awards 2009 close today! Build Change represented the United States among the 2008 Laureates.

Awards programs like these are crucial to world-changing designers. The recognition from a university, nonprofit, or corporate award program can give a design startup the endorsement they need to win grant funding or justify government aid that helps distribute the new design to folks who cannot afford it.

Here’s a quick summary of development-related awards programs:

Program Tagline Dates Past winners
The Tech Awards Technology Benefitting Humanity Nominations due 4/10 Build Change
Google 10 to the 100th May those who help the most win Voting period coming soon; request reminder First annual, but Hippo Roller is featured in the YouTube animated video!
Microsoft Imagine Cup The world’s premier student technology competition Round 1 winners announced 4/20 to advance to Round 2. Team SOAK achieving sustainable agriculture with software and hardware.
$100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability Improving Lives through Sustainable Invention Submit nominations by October for the January 2010 award. Amy Smith was the first female winner of the Student prize in 2000
MIT IDEAS Competition Develop and implement projects that make a positive change in the world Final submissions due 4/15; Judging session at MIT 4/27.

If you know of others, please comment and let us know!

This post dedicated to Marc, who has encouraged me every day for the past six weeks to make time for blogging!

20090219-museumReason #3,472 to live in New York: the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Cooper-Hewitt created the traveling exhibition Design for the Other 90%, which arrives in Atlanta this week. This exhibition is basically a physical version of this blog…or rather, this blog is a poor man’s version of this exhibition.

From the exhibition website:

“The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90%.”
—Dr. Paul Polak, International Development Enterprises

20090219-museumThe exhibition is organized by six developing world needs and searchable by continent, much like this blog. It provides an up-close experience of many solutions that we will cover in upcoming posts: KickStart’s MoneyMaker pumps, LifeStraw, sugarcane charcoal, and One Laptop per Child. Given that most of these devices are intended for countries far off the grid, this could be your only chance to see these designs in person.

Catch the exhibition through May 29 at the CDC’s Global Health Odyssey Museum. For those who can’t finagle a flight to Georgia, a quick browse around the well-made website will still give you hope and inspiration.

20081227-the-goals7We just saw Benjamin Button which reminded us of 2 things close to our hearts…Brad Pitt and New Orleans.

20090102-built-to-last1150 homeowners in a still-devastated district of New Orleans get to choose from 13 customizable design models for new homes built for LEED Platinum certification and for withstanding storms. With a cradle-to-cradle lens guiding materials selection, the materials are not only to be made from sustainable resources but also intended to biodegrade if the houses ever do need to be intentionally destroyed. The first six houses were tested this August by Hurricane Gustav in the final stages of construction, and not a window was lost.

The model designs and pricing subsidies are funded by the Make It Right foundation, jumpstarted by a $5 million personal donation matching pledge by Brad. All models feature open porches – a nod to Southern culture and community – and five-foot elevations – to guard against inevitable floods. The house prices are $150,000 or less, and subsidized if this exceeds 30% of the deed owner’s income.

20090102-built-to-last2This is an example of how celebrities can use their clout to super-boost world-changing efforts. So far, 88 of the 150 homes have been fully sponsored. You can donate as little as $5 to help the 88th house get from $2,939 funded to $150,000 funded. The donation site is cool – you can virtually tour the house and see how much is needed to sponsor each feature, like solar panels or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Brad fell in love with the city during the filming of Interview with a Vampire (1994), was devastated to see its destruction in Hurricane Katrina (2005), campaigned to film Benjamin Button there in 2006 to boost its economy, launched the Make it Right campaign in 2007 to support its rebuilding, and bought his own home there with Angelina Jolie in January 2008.

What change do you hope for the world in the next year?

In May, my newly-formed team at work had an offsite to organize ourselves and set priorities. Our leader kicked off the day with this question to help us get to know each other and provoke thought. My answer was, “I am a big fan of design, and I want to create a website that celebrates how design is applied to world problems like the Millennium Development Goals.”

That day, my coworker sent me Guy Kawasaki’s blog post on playground power, which pointed me to 5 social design solutions!

I learned from that day that simply talking about your commitment to something can win you support and resources to get started. If you want to commit to effecting world change, decide what your action will be and then be vocal about it! You’ll find that that action is a lot easier.

Small people talk about OTHER PEOPLE. Average people talk about THINGS. Great people talk about IDEAS.

— sentences in reverse order from an Unknown quote

See, some good things can come out of those corporate offsites 🙂