Establishing entrepreneurial opportunities for developing countries using engineering design

Kevin McGarvey, Michael Panko, Beena Sukumaran, Michael Kerbaugh, Gabriel Posluszny, Anthony Cavalier

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This paper describes a program titled "Engineering Innovators without Borders" (EIWB), which works in close collaboration with Engineers without Borders (EWB). The main mission of EIWB is to redesign and develop devices that have market potential and will improve the quality of life in developing countries, while providing entrepreneurial opportunities. In addition, these devices have to be economically and socially sustainable and produced using locally available materials. This has been done utilizing multidisciplinary engineering student teams and has been successfully implemented through the curricular avenue of Junior and Senior Engineering Clinics at Rowan University. The engineering students perform a survey of local communities in developing countries, identified as having a need for engineering skills by Engineers without Borders. During this initial survey, the students identify local entrepreneurial opportunities that require redesign or development of a device that will enhance the quality of life of the local area. The students then work on modifying or designing the device using local materials and input from the local community. Some examples of projects undertaken include development of a human powered grain crusher and a tree climber. The grain crusher being designed at Rowan University has undergone many revisions to make it more affordable and sustainable based on pilot studies and end-user feedback. It can be powered easily by a single person and therefore can utilize human energy for crushing grains efficiently. The second project currently in progress is a palm tree climber. The tree climber will provide a safer alternative to the traditional climbing method used in coconut harvesting, which is to climb with little or no safety equipment or aids. The tree climber has been designed to attach quickly and easily to the tree without damaging the trunk. Both these devices are being developed to be locally produced inexpensively from readily available materials. The students gain a valuable perspective on designing engineering products for developing countries including cultural and economic considerations, sustainability, material and resource availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Establishing entrepreneurial opportunities for developing countries using engineering design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this