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Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

Design for the Developing World: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

[+] Author and Article Information
Amy E. Wood

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: amywood@byu.edu

Christopher A. Mattson

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: mattson@byu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received April 30, 2015; final manuscript received November 13, 2015; published online January 13, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Kristina Shea.

J. Mech. Des 138(3), 031101 (Jan 13, 2016) (11 pages) Paper No: MD-15-1335; doi: 10.1115/1.4032195 History: Received April 30, 2015; Revised November 13, 2015

Engineers face many challenges when designing for the developing world, which are not typically encountered in other design circumstances, such as a lack of understanding of language, culture, and context. These challenges often prevent engineers from having a sustained impact as they design for resource-poor individuals. In this paper, reports from 41 engineering projects in the developing world were analyzed, and common pitfalls were identified. The data came from Failure Reports from Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada and from the authors' own field reports. After the pitfalls are described, the authors present a visual tool called the Design for the Developing World Canvas to help design teams that are developing manufactured products to avoid these common pitfalls. This canvas can be used throughout the product development process as part of regular design reviews to help the team evaluate their progress in advancing the design while avoiding the pitfalls that engineers commonly face.

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Fig. 1

The Design for the Developing World Canvas. Each section of the canvas represents an essential part of product development that if thoughtfully considered will help design teams avoid common pitfalls of designing for resource-poor individuals.

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