Humphrey Seminar: Highlighting D-Lab

Agriculture and Natural Resources covers a wide range, everything from farm production techniques and lab work to conservation, advocacy and policy. UC Davis Humphrey Fellows dlabare a diverse group of professionals, so our seminar series aims to address a variety of interests and abilities with our executive leadership series, professional visits, and a variety of training that expose us all to concepts and best practices in a number of fields. In December, the group visited Kurt Kornbluth, founder and director of the UC Davis D-Lab, which focuses on addressing real-world energy issues from dialogue, design, and dissemination  - in essence, designing products that consider community-stated needs.

The day was more than a hands-on opportunity to brush up on engineering skills – it was a chance to re-think the way we interact with communities in addressing needs.  Dr. Kornbluth gave many examples of well-intended programs that failed because the community was not involved in the design process – which led into hands-on approaches to help make appropriate and useful products for communities. It was a chance to engage in positive change and also have fun – the D-Lab is an engineer’s playground!

Above right, Suad Badri (Sudan) and others measure the true voltage requirements of various consumer goods.

dlabLeft, the group goes outdoors to measure the actual sustained output of a diesel generator. Fellows Luz Cruz (Panama) and Swe Swe Win (Myanmar) assist Professor Kurt Kornbluth in taking measurements.


Right, Fellows Shafat Sultan (Indai) and Gyuserb Kim (South Korea) practice responsive design techniques by interviewing one another before designing wallets to address their specific needs




Sintayehu Mekonnen (Ethiopia) poses with his finished product – a custom-made wallet to suit the needs of his work partner.

Several Fellows will continue work with the D-Lab, enrolling in graduate courses that work in the lab. Fellow Suad Badri (Sudan) submitted a successful project request that will be worked on in this year’s course. Past UC Davis Humphrey Fellows have hosted D-Lab students in their home countries to address site-specific needs. If you are a former Fellow interested in partnering with the D-Lab, please contact us.


UC Davis D-Lab: Development via Dialogue, Design & Dissemination

The University of California, Davis Energy Efficiency Center (EEC), in collaboration with the Center for Entrepreneurship (C4E), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a two-part series of courses to educate and involve university students in energy issues in developing countries. Curriculum includes lectures, guest speakers, case studies, and hands-on lab modules. Throughout the year, students network with international partner communities to help solve real-life problems in developing countries.