With most of sub-Saharan Africa’s population spread over remote rural areas, the difficulty and high cost of running transmission lines to individual homes makes it impossible for much of the population to tie into electric grids. Local, decentralized solutions are the answer, and this team is taking that approach with the development of locally manufacturable, pico-hydropower technology. The team designed a novel, mechanical, low cost pico-hydro system that runs off of small amounts of water diverted from a river or stream into a holding tank. Water is piped down to a turbine from the holding tank, rotating a wheel connected to a standard automotive alternator that generates electricity.
The team has implemented its low cost system in Rwanda, and a profitable business has developed around it in which people pay to have batteries recharged at the station. This grant supports the installation of a system at a second site and the development of a replicable, scalable business model for local ownership and operation.
The cost of care and compensation of military personnel with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) exceeds $300 million annually: the largest defense-related disability expenditure. Existing noise reduction devices (earmuffs, earplugs, and commercial active noise reduction headsets) do not adequately provide the broadband noise reduction necessary to prevent NIHL. Over the course of several years, this E-Team devised, tested and commercialized a novel, high performance active noise reduction system for communication and hearing protection headsets through feedforward adaptive least mean square (LMS) control.
Sproxil, a 2007 NCIIA E-Team grantee developing cellphone technology to combat the use of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria and Ghana, has been awarded $10,000 by the Clinton Global Initiative University. Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil's lead technologist, also received an oustanding commitment award.
Ashifi is being granted $10,000 towards materials to create the item-unique coding for one million drug labels and to offset the costs of SMS texts for consumers.
Read about the award, including an interview with Ashifi, here.
According to the World Health Organization, 25% of the medicines sold in the developing world are inauthentic copies containing little or no active ingredients. When fake drugs are laced with lethal ingredients they can lead to mass fatalities, as was the case in a 1995 outbreak of false meningitis vaccine in Niger that killed 195,00 people. To fight the problem, this E-Team is developing an SMS protocol called UPAP. UPAP is a labeling system for drug manufacturers that allows customers to use their cell phones to text message covert, one-time alphanumeric codes to the drug company's back-end database for verification. The system verifies whether or not the drug is genuine, allowing the customer to get information on what they're buying right at the pharmacy.
A number of competing drug-verification technologies exist, such as RFID and colorimetric/holographic signatures, but none combine UPAP's low cost and high effectiveness. The team plans to focus initially on Ghana, where 40% of the drugs are counterfeit.
Update: a member of the original team has incorporated the venture as Sproxil, which has several partners, including the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers Program, Ashoka, Nokia, and a number of telecoms carriers and pharmaceutical regulators in Ghana, Nigeria, and India.
Africa is experiencing a mobile phone revolution. With a 5,000% subscriber growth rate between 1998 and 2003, the phenomenal mobile expansion has already led to a number of unforeseen, unorthodox uses of phones. However, even amidst the excitement of this expansion, there remains a dearth of second-tier growth in the mobile industry—specifically, the development of services leveraging the infrastructure deployed across the continent for socio-economic good.
This team is going to create a skill-mixing partnership: an exchange of core competencies via a collaborative effort between multi-disciplinary, well-resourced Western engineering students and bright, innovative African technologists. The mobile phone provides an excellent anvil for forging such a partnership due to the typically short product development cycle, low startup costs and the nascent nature of the field. The sustainable vision conveyed in this grant leverages the current underutilization of mobile phones by building bottoms-up applications based on existing user behavior, and in turn generating new ventures by student founders. The initiative will act as a conveyor belt for innovative mobile applications for socio-economic development.
Using computers to create new applications of mobile phones.
Premature birth is the major determinant of long-term health problems in children, and occurs in 11% of approximately six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Subtle changes in cervical tissue throughout pregnancy can be detected as a decrease in bioimpedance. This team has developed a probe to measure bioimpedance, thereby detecting impending preterm labor at the tissue level with significantly more accuracy than current technologies
The growing industry of mountain biking faces problems as cycle frame manufacturers face design, materials, and manufacturing constraints in their attempts to reduce frame weight while increasing strength. These limitations result from the disadvantages of conventional fusion welding to join bicycle frame members. To eliminate these constraints, the Interlink E-Team is applying innovative Friction Stir Welding (FSW) technology to bicycle frame assembly. Introduced in 1991, FSW is a cutting-edge solid-state joining technology developed by The Welding Institute, a nonprofit welding consortium. FSW is a simple mechanical process in which a cylindrical pin made of tool steel is rotated, plunged and traversed along a weld joint to create a solid-state, high strength joint.
FSW improves bicycle frames in five important ways.
FSW improves frame strength and rigidity with greater joint strengths and fatigue life; elimination of solidification defects; reduced thermal input; and the ability to join higher strength aerospace alloys that are not weldable with fusion welding.
FSW lowers frame weights by reducing structural over-design, minimizing join build-up, and expanding the use of higher strength-to-weight ratio aerospace alloys.
FSW reduces manufacturing costs by eliminating fusion weld consumables, reducing the number of manufacturing steps, and increasing process automation.
FSW providers greater freedom in mechanical design through enhanced joint properties and alloy choices.
FSW is an environmentally friendly and safe process with no noxious byproducts.
The Interlink E-Team, spread among many institutions, consists of two MBA candidates from the Tuck School of Business, a graduate student in materials science engineering from the University of California at Berekely, and various faculty and industry advisors. The team is designing and building a mountain bike using FSW; completing metallurgical and mechanical testing of simulation joints; drafting and filing a patent for the frames and sub-assemblies; and generating a business plan. Interlink plans to target the high-performance mountain bike market.
Noise pollution is a major problem in many communities. Big industry, military operations, and airports are all capable of producing damaging levels of sound. Wilderness areas need to monitor noise to protect wildlife. Because this type of pollution has a high impact on the safety and quality of life, this E-Team from Dartmouth College developed, by request from Lebanon Municipal Airport, an efficient, low-cost, and portable noise-monitoring system.
The system is a robust, weatherproof, and portable package backed up with solar power for use anywhere. It employs digital and analog technology, and is equipped with long and short-term data storage, user-friendly hardware and software controls, and data analysis software. The system automatically monitors low-complexity noise and records its findings.
This project supports the work of teams within a newly modified intensive first-year management curriculum. The program provides students with a hands-on opportunity to develop and plan a new business venture in a team setting over the two years of their MBA program. The Forum (as the program is called) provides self-directed team experiences with a focus on E-business creation (although any opportunity is open). Students are encouraged to form teams and pursue ideas of their own creation or those suggested by alumni or sponsors. Outside speakers and consultants participate. Teams develop ideas, work closely with a research librarian to do an industry survey, and write business plans. The first year culminates in a presentation of the business plan to a group of venture capitalists. Successful projects can continue in the second year as the focus of work in an entrepreneurship class and as an independent study under two faculty advisors. Long-term plans for the development of an incubator are underway, in collaboration with the medical and engineering schools.
For this project, Dartmouth College used NCIIA funds to purchase rapid prototyping equipment, leading to E-Teams’ development of mechatronic, or “smart product” ideas. The grant funds supported approximately sixty students, some working independently on E-Team projects, and some first and second-year students enrolled in ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering. All students were required to define a problem, brainstorm for a solution, test and prototype a design solution, and propose a commercialization strategy.