Faculty & Leadership Blog / Innovative Curriculum

Design That Matters Joins Global Health Track Of Affordable Design And Entrepreneurship Program

Olin College and Babson College, with vital support from the Autodesk Foundation, announce that Design that Matters (DtM) will join the new Global Health track within the Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE) programbow

ADE is a collaborative course in which students co-create new products and social ventures with communities around the world to address challenges endemic to poverty. The Global Health track within ADE was formally launched last year as a way for students, who were already interested in the need for social justice through design, to focus on healthcare-related projects and expose them to a vital sector in global development.

This fall, Design that Matters will work with a team of students from Olin, Babson and Wellesley Colleges on the widespread problem of premature infant death in developing countries.

The students will be working on realizing a product started by DtM: a baby warmer they’re calling Otter. Each year close to 4 million infants die within a month of their birth in resource-poor settings due to infection, low birth weight and other health factors. Otter is designed to provide a warm, clean environment that could avert close to one quarter of such deaths by preventing hypothermia in under-resourced district hospitals. DtM has conducted an initial market analysis and created a few prototypes, and is eager for the ADE team to help develop a “hard to use wrong” interface, a thermal regulation subsystem, manufacturing plans, and financial projections leading to production.

For six years, ADE has been inspiring and supporting students learning and engaging in design for impact by increasing their awareness of inequality and the need for social justice through design. With the establishment of the Global Health track, Autodesk’s support has enabled the program to reach more students and expose them to a vital sector in global development.

The Autodesk Foundation supports the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Design that Matters (DtM), a non-profit design firm located in Salem, Massachusetts, and also supported by the Autodesk Foundation, solves problems “for and with the poor in developing countries”. The mission of both of these entities closely aligns with ADE’s dedication to collaborative design processes that prioritize working with local community members. DtM works primarily on innovations improving infant health and decreasing infant mortality around the world.

Over the next semester the team working on Otter will join students in the four other tracks of the ADE program — Asset Value, Child Education, Community Development, and Food Processing — to establish theories of change, iterate product designs, and test business models that can deliver social return on investment (SROI), engaging with local communities in the U.S. and abroad.

All of the teams seek to leverage the effectiveness of collaboration. The Child Education team is continuing to work with Agastya Foundation International and The Exploratory to develop STEM teaching materials for school-aged children in India and Ghana; the Food Processing team and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) are working together to create cassava processing machines for women in Ghana. The Community Development team is engaging Higher Purpose, Co. and Coahoma County in their efforts to develop a mobile space to promote young adult development in the Mississippi Delta. The Asset Value team has just begun to identify opportunities for smart systems in Puerto Rico and Massachusetts and is in conversations with several potential collaborators.

The newest ADE support comes from the Autodesk Foundation Fund, a corporate advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. In addition to the Autodesk Foundation, the program has ongoing and recent support from the USAID Global Development Lab and the International Development Innovation Network, VentureWell, Dassault Systèmes, Verizon, Toyota North America, and the Babson Social Innovation Lab and is in the process of identifying supporting collaborators for academic year 2017-2018.