Design for Impact: Development Engineering Research and Practice Seminar 2016

Design for Impact: Development Engineering Research and Practice Seminar


(2 unit) Graduate Course

INSTRUCTORS: Alice Agogino, Kate Jastram and DevEng Faculty

Contact: [Alice Agogino]; [Kate Jastram]; [Michelle Phillips, GSR]:

Course Description (download flyer):

Development Engineering represents a new interdisciplinary field that integrates engineering, economics, business, natural resource development and social sciences to develop, implement and evaluate new technological interventions that address the needs of people living in poverty in developing regions and low-income areas of the United States. This seminar, offered each spring term, will focus on work-in-progress presentations by the students, as well as faculty and guest lecturers. This seminar is a required course for the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering.

The faculty members co-teaching the required Development Engineering Research and Practice Seminar will be the faculty advisors for the Dev Eng graduate students presenting their research in the seminar. Current participating faculty in the Dev Eng Graduate Group are:

  • Alice Agogino (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Eric Brewer (Computer Science / EECS)
  • Clair Brown (Economics)
  • Jenna Burrell (School of Information)
  • John Canny (Computer Science / EECS)DevEng210_Poster_Spring 2016 Design for Impact
  • Jack Colford (Public Health)
  • Dan Fletcher (Bioengineering)
  • Ashok Gadgil (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • Paul Gertler (Haas)
  • David Levine (Haas)
  • Kara Nelson (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • Tapan Parikh (School of Information)
  • Ananya Roy (City and Regional Planning / Global Poverty and Practice)
  • Elisabeth Sadoulet (Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Natural Resources)
  • Shankar Sastry (Dean, College of Engineering / Director, Blum Center)
  • Laura Tyson (Hass)
  • Catherine Wolfram (Haas School of Business)
  • David Zilberman (Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Natural Resources)

Course Objectives

The objective of the seminar is to prepare students for research and practice in development engineering. Students will give presentations on their research and receive feedback from faculty and peer students in multiple disciplines. The seminar will also provide a community of practice in the new field of development engineering.

Couse Prerequisites: Graduate level standing.

Student Learning Outcomes:

The students will learn to present their research in a scholarly setting.  Students will learn how to design human subjects protocols and include user participation in the design of their research. Through peer learning and faculty feedback, students will learn from exposure to a range of different examples and applications.

Assessment of Student Progress Toward Course Objectives:

  • 50% on presentation of research
  • 20% on attendance and participation in class
  • 30% on post-reflection and integration plan into research

Textbook (s) and/or Other Required Readings:

No formal textbook. Each speaker will be asked to provide one reading in preparation for his/her session.

Schedule for Spring 2016:

  • Jan. 27: Dr. Jay Taneja, Research Scientist, IBM Research – Africa, (Berkeley CS PhD with a focus on systems and energy). Read:
  • “Mapping Induced Residential Demand For Electricity in Kenya.” Douglas Fabini, Diego Ponce de Leon Barido, Akomeno Omu, and Jay Taneja. In the Fifth ACM Symposium on Computing for Development (DEV-5), December 2014.
  • Making Sanitation Count: Developing and Testing a Device for Assessing Latrine Use in Low-Income Settings.” Thomas Clasen, Douglas Fabini, Sophie Boisson, Jay Taneja, Joshua Song, Elisabeth Aichinger, Anthony Bui, Sean Dadashi, Wolf-Peter Schmidt, Zachary Burt, and Kara L. Nelson. Environmental Science and Technolology, 2012. pdfPreview the documentView in a new window


International development can be a tricky minefield, especially for those who just want to build cool things that can help people live more comfortable lives. The litany of approaches different organizations have taken towards technology development for international development bears out that meeting these twin goals may not be so simple. In this talk, I will provide an anecdotal, unvarnished view of my experience as a research scientist at the IBM Research lab in Nairobi, the first commercial IT research lab in sub-Saharan Africa. I will talk about my experience leaving the friendly confines of the computer science graduate program at Berkeley and wading into the myriad challenges of helping to bootstrap an organization that is developing technology for the developing world in the developing world. I’ll discuss some of the challenges we have faced as well as how we have navigated selecting projects that not only meet our impact goals but also our goals as a private enterprise. I will also provide more depth on my research in improving electricity reliability and access.

  • Feb. 3: Kate Jastram, Lecturer, Blum Center for Developing Economies (Berkeley JD with focus on international law; Sarah Lawrence MA in women’s history), Forced Migration: Law, Gender & Technology.  Read:


Humanitarian relief and development are often linked yet very often misunderstood.  With soaring numbers of people forcibly displaced from their homes and countries, we need creative responses from every sector, including development.  I will talk about some of the key aspects of today’s displacement crises: reasons for the spiraling numbers, the role of the United States, why we need to talk about gender, and the promise of technology.  I will also offer some reflections on a workshop on the education of Syrian refugee children that I attended last Friday, convened by the State Department and Google.

  • Feb. 10: Eric Dijkhuis (Po Paraguay); Sonia Travaglini (student research presentation)

Abstract (Sonia Travaglini):

Mycology materials, a biocomposite material grown from fungi, provide a novel option for a natural composite material. Composite materials use different materials combined together to offer better properties, such as using fibers and a surrounding matrix material to form a stronger composite. Synthetic composite materials require costly and toxic components and thus can rarely suitable for use in areas of low economic resources. The need for low cost, non-toxic, and sustainable materials continues to increase, as does the need to reduce the impact of materials, including their manufacture and subsequent disposal after use. Mycology materials have an entirely natural composition, and can be grown from agricultural wastes, which provides the benefit of reduced impact from their manufacture, and as they are formed from organic material they can be disposed of through composting. Mycology materials are grown from carbon containing feedstocks by digesting the organic material to form the structure of the mycology material. The mycology material is made from the vegetative part of the selected fungi species that grow a network of individual strands of mycelium, called hyphae, to form a cellular material. As a natural material, mycology materials can grow from a variety of feedstocks including from the waste from many agricultural crops and products, such as sugar cane husks known as bagasse, the waste stalks and leaves of maize known as corn stover, or leftover straw from wheat crops.
As a new area of research, the full range of abilities and properties of mycology materials is still being discovered, and exploring applications for this material can provide new options for using biotechnology for low-resource areas. A unique capability of mycology materials is their wide range of uses; fungi species can be chosen which are edible and thus provide a food source, they can be processed for use as a construction material with their production requiring simplistic technology and less energy intensive methods than synthetic materials, and post-growth the mycology materials can be converted into a livestock feed. These capabilities and the fact that mycology materials can be grown from waste (including animal dung), means mycology materials offer potential for use in low-resources areas which have an established focus on using agricultural wastes and needs for low cost food options and materials, such as in South Africa where use of agricultural wastes and addressing rural poverty are key areas of effort.

Readings (Sonia Travaglini): (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

  • Feb. 17: Kate Jastram, Lecturer, Blum Center for Developing Economies (Berkeley JD with focus on international law; Sarah Lawrence MA in women’s history), Gender and Development.  Read:

Abstract: Gender and development represent three sprawling, timely and challenging topics, with a vast array of accompanying scholarly literature. Our class session will provide some background and context on development and human rights approaches to gender equality, and examine how your various projects fit into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and/or their related gender equality targets. In that regard, one question we’ll be considering is why engineers and entrepreneurs need to know about the SDGs. It may be helpful to return to the Framework for Design Thinking in Development Engineering, Figure 1 on p. 2 of Design for Impact: A Development Engineering Graduate Program at UC Berkeley (assigned for the first day of class, you may have already downloaded it).

Feb. 24: David Levine, Hygiene Heros game. Read:  David I. Levine, William Riggs and Kelsey Steffen, “Rapid Prototyping a School-based Health Program in the Developing World” pdfPreview the documentView in a new window

In class, some students will play a game or read a story, while we will ask 3 students to serve as observers.  Observers will take notes and report back at the end.  All students will then be asked to write a brief reflection about the experience.

Brandie Nonnecke:

Title:  DevCAFE: A participatory platform for assessing development initiatives in the field
DevCAFE is a participatory platform that engages communities from developing regions to collectively assess conditions, needs, and outcomes of development projects. DevCAFE was used to assess the effectiveness of family planning and reproductive health trainings (FPRH) at three health centers in Uganda in June 2014, July 2015, and December 2015. The platform features a visual- and voice-based user interface that allows women participants to evaluate the opportunities and barriers to family planning adoption, audio record their suggestions for improving the effectiveness of FPRH trainings, and evaluate the importance of others’ suggestions. DevCAFE applies statistical models and collaborative filtering to enable rapid identification of key insights while in the field. A short 2 minute video on the DevCAFE implementation in Uganda is available at (Links to an external site.)For more information on other implementations of the DevCAFE platform, visit (Links to an external site.).

Tomas Leon:

Abstract: Human liver flukes are unique in being classified as Group 1 biological carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for causing cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a highly fatal liver cancer. The at-risk population for these two parasites is estimated to be over 650 million people across Asia with over 45 million recognized infections. Indeed, the World Health Organization recently classified infection with human liver flukes as an emerging infectious disease. The highest prevalence of CCA is in northeast Thailand in the region surrounding Khon Kaen, a hotspot of intense parasite-induced disease burden. Through research at Khon Kaen University (KKU) and other institutions, a greater understanding of the lifecycle of O. viverrini is being achieved, but infection rates in humans remain relatively high despite prevention and control strategies. My work seeks to elucidate transmission in the environment, of which little is known. I am generating new and consolidating existing data to fit mathematical models that increase our understanding of how the parasite is impacted by local hydrology in the seasonal floodplain ecosystems.


Toward integrated opisthorchiasis control in northeast Thailand: The Lawa project (Links to an external site.)

Deadly dish: the dinner that can give you cancer (Links to an external site.) (BBC Video)

Tomas’ slides are under Files.

  • Mar. 9: Iana Arandal (Director, E4C Programs); Robert Hauck (GE Healthcare)

Title: Engineering solutions that matter: Trends in technology for development

Abstract: Growing numbers of technically-trained individuals are engaging in the design and delivery of  solutions to fundamental challenges faced by underserved communities. Whether in the non-profit, academic, and private sectors, these individuals and organizations have catalyzed product and service innovations that achieve fit for service while supporting business objectives. This session will provide an overview of current trends such as design for adoption, manufacturing, distribution and financing for scale, remote monitoring and application of standards through case studies from the Engineering for Change (E4C) community of solvers and GE Healthcare. We will explore implementation hurdles, industry perspectives on technology for development and present tools for due-diligence in the design and deployment of solutions.

Readings in bCourses:

Iana Aranda is the Director of Programs in the Engineering for Global Development sector at ASME and Engineering for Change, LLC (E4C) – non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting sustainable and accessible technology-based solutions for communities worldwide. Her primary focus is on the design and deployment of a portfolio of products and programs in emerging markets, social innovation and sustainable design.

Robert Hauck is the Chief Mechanical Engineer at GE Healthcare and has global responsibility for all GE Healthcare Product Technology and Development. He’s led a global team of 350 engineers with direct staff located in four countries on three continents.

  • Mar. 16: Jean Shia (Autodesk); Roy Zebian (student research presentation)

Jean Shia:

Title: Both Sides of the Table

Abstract: As a funder in the impact design field, I spend everyday evaluating organizations and entrepreneurs and their ideas/solutions to address the world’s most pressing challenges.  But my experience in the trenches, running and scaling a for-profit social enterprise for five years, deeply informs my approach to how I assess potential grantees.  In this talk, I’ll share with you some of lessons I learned from building a startup from 1 to 100 people, raising millions of dollars from VCs and philanthropic donors, and surviving many failures along the way.  I will also discuss Autodesk Foundation’s approach to investing in design and technology solutions and what many grant applicants get right and get wrong.  We’ll spend time to answer questions and have a discussion about your projects and visions for taking them to scale.

Reading: (Links to an external site.)

Roy Zebian:

Title: Recreational Wheels

Abstract: The Syrian Civil war, since its start, has forced millions out of their home country into neighboring safer places, such as Lebanon. These refugees, who are suffering from severe PTSD due to what they have witnessed, and losing hope due to miserable living conditions, are both the victims of aggression, prejudice and the perpetrators of crimes.
Mostly affected are the women, constantly violated in camps, and children forced to beg on the streets. Despite the help that many NGOs have been providing, these women and children are still psychologically scarred, unable to integrate society.
The Recreational Wheels project consists of a moving facility that offers art and sport therapy to Syrian refugees, mainly in camps, while following an optimal route around different Lebanese territories. A selection of case studies prove the efficacy of arts and sports in healing refugees from the traumas of their past and present, and the number of universities and active NGOs in the field will be providing the help in terms of equipment, sponsorship and professional expertise to ensure the success of the project.

Readings: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

On bCourses (3 readings)

  • Mar. 23: SPRING BREAK
  • Mar. 30: Meriwether Hardie (Rainforest Alliance); Matthew Potts (Sustaining Tropical Landscapes in the Face of Rising FEWS Demands)

Meriwether Hardie has diverse experience in project leadership, supply chain sustainability, and remote wilderness exploration, and leads Special Initiatives at Rainforest Alliance (Links to an external site.), where her projects increasingly focus on the intersection of field technology and sustainable development.  Meriwether is currently leading Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to use technology to empower small-scale farmers around the globe with the information they need to better manage and protect their land, while increasing their crop yields and revenue. One of Meriwether’s favorite current projects is a Farmer Communication Platform (Links to an external site.) that aims to increase producers’ connectivity to other producers, as well as to the rest of the certified value chain, reinforcing how their efforts in growing sustainable food will contribute to the movement of preserving biodiversity and improving livelihoods for themselves and future generations. After an initial yearlong pilot in Guatemala, Meriwether is now leading Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to take the lessons learned from this project, and scale this tool to small scale producers around the globe.

Matthew Potts: Sustaining Tropical Landscapes in the Face of Rising FEWS (Food, Energy, Water Systems) Demands. Abstract: Growing populations and shifting demographics are stressing interlinked food, energy, and water (FEW) systems and the ecosystems they depend on worldwide. Impacts are particular acute in tropical regions with fastest growing population as well as the most diverse and fragile ecosystems. In this seminar, I will explore the ways to best manage tropical landscapes to meeting growing FEWs demands while conserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem service. Specifically, I will discuss: (i) the multi-dimensional and multi-causal drivers of land-use change in the tropics; (ii) the potential value of marginal land in producing bioenergy; and (iii) how citizens of tropical countries may be willing to pay for their own biodiversity conservation. Bio: Matthew Potts has a broad interdisciplinary background with training in mathematics, ecology and economics with a BS from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Harvard University. He has extensive international experience conducting field research in tropical forests throughout the world. His varied research interests include spatial aspects of forest management and land-use planning as well as how human actions, values, and ethics affect biodiversity conservation.

Readings (in Files):

Vincent 2015; Evans 2015

  • Apr. 6: Steven Duggan (Director, Worldwide Education Strategy: Microsoft Corporation)


  • Apr. 13: Isha Ray (Professor in Energy Resources Group), “Achieving gender equality through sanitation”. Katya Cherukumilli (student research presentation); Lisa Corsetto (student research presentation)

Isha Ray:

Talk on Gender Equality: (Links to an external site.)

  • Apr. 20: John Gage (Chief Science Officer, Human Needs Project); William Tarpeh (student research presentation); Rachel Dzombak (student research presentation)
  • Apr. 27: Julia Kramer (student research presentation – 1 hour); Esteban Cornejo (student research presentation); Maria Camila Perfetti (student research presentation)