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  • Extreme circumstances are often the impetus for innovation. After the fall of the USSR, Cuba lost nearly 80% of its imports due to the trade embargo, leading to a surge in hacked consumer electronics and home appliances. During the Great Depression, patterns were printed on bags of flour and feed, encouraging people to repurpose the fabric for dresses or dolls. In 2017, Venezuelans protesting governmental corruption combatted tear gas attacks with respirators made of plastic water bottles. These examples show our ability to create new solutions, even when we don’t have the right tool for the job.

    In this studio, students will create devices, interventions, machines, robots and technologies that will help mitigate the fallout after a large natural disaster. These inventions will  serve responders, aid workers, local residents, governmental officials, refugee populations, the elderly, or other groups impacted by the disaster. As part of the studio, students will interview professionals working in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, including experts from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. As part of the constraints of working in a post-disaster context, students will examine post-disaster debri and scraps, upcycled electronics, and alternate opportunities to convert waste into resource. Following design research, students will use their creativity and resourcefulness to design, engineer and build prototypes for these life-saving devices.

    Using the power of digital design (computer aided drafting, 3D modeling) rapid prototyping tools (laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC milling), and microprocessor electronics combined with discarded materials, students will build tools, robots and other devices as part of their disaster relief interventions.


    Focus Skills/Subjects/Technologies:


       Industrial Design

         Interaction Design

       Physics (Electricity, Magnetism)




       Robotics (Arduino, Sensors, Actuators)

       Digital Fabrication (Laser-cutting, 3d Printing)

       3d Modeling


    • Enrolling students must be between the ages of 14 to 18 (or grades 9-12)


  • In a world where aliens have invaded and destroyed New York City, the iron structures of the skyscrapers are all that is left. Humans have developed this vehicle to climb up the frames and escape from the aliens whose inner magnetism render the iron structures deadly. 

    This vehicle uses magnetic treads to stick to magnetic metal surfaces. The vehicle is controlled by a remote control, which make the two motors drive the treads forwards. The 3-D printed treads are attached to a wooden frame, which holds the magnets in place. 

  • Hypothermia is a serious danger to high altitude climbers. When a patient suffering from hypothermia is brought to a hospital for medical assistance, a doctor typically begins treating the patient by setting him or her up with a heated IV. Injecting warm saline solution into the body raises the patient’s core body temperature as well as hydrates and provides the patient with nutrients. This ultimately relieves hypothermia. A large problem is that often times those suffering from hypothermia do not have immediate access to medical assistance. We wanted to create a portable heated IV for extreme climate situations and/or high altitude climbers suffering from hypothermia or dehydration. This product is not supposed to heal a person completely, it is intended to be used as a temporary aid to prolong the user’s life until they can receive medical assistance.

    The device purifies the water using a cap with built in UV lights. This "purifier" screws into a separate compartment containing ceramic resistors that heat the IV drip reservoir. After being purified and heated, the water flows through the IV tubing until it reaches the needle. The needle is intended to be clipped into the specialized cuff created. The cuff is an 3D printed semi-circle placed on a person's forearm. The cuff is designed to simplify and secure the injection of the IV needle into the person's vein. The other compartments of the cannister hold other necessary components including the salt tablet/packet, a vein finder (Infrared light device), etc.

    The importance of the product is clear--it could be the defying factor of a high altitude climber's survival. Without the Portable Warm IV, a person could possibly die of hypothermia on the mountain but with the IV, the chance of his or her core body temperature warming enough to prolong the survival long enough to receive medical assistance is likely. There are no existing products that are capable of helping high altitude mountaineers let alone in extreme conditions return their body to a normal temperature. Since hypothermia is such a serious threat to the lives of mountaineers, it is crucial to have a device that would keep them alive at high altitudes and dangerously cold temperatures. The portable warm IV would bring the user fundamental and pragmatic medical attention immediately, making it a life-changing product... Literally.





Summer 2019 NuVu at MIT