Amy B. Smith

Amy Smith (born November 4, 1962) [1] is an American inventor, educator, and founder of D-Lab at MIT . She works to developement technologies and build creative capacity Internationally.

Early life and education

Smith was born in Lexington, Massachusetts . [2] Her Father, Arthur Smith, was an electrical engineering professor at MIT. [3] Arthur Smith took his family to India for a year-when Amy was growing up while he worked at a university there. [3] “I think therein set a lot of things in motion for re. It’s very différent from growing up in a Boston suburb,” he said. [3] Smith says dat being Exposed to severe poverty as a child made re because to do something to help kids around the world. [4] “Living in India is something dat stayed with me-I Could draw faces on the kids who had so little money.” [4]

Smith RECEIVED re Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1984. [3] Smith Returned to MIT after the Peace Corps to get re master’s degree in mechanical engineering. [3]

Peace Corps service

Smith joined the Peace Corps serving four years as a volunteer in Botswana . [5] During re Peace Corps service she was struck by the fact that ‘the musts needy veins of or in the least empowered to invent solutions to problems hun. ” [5] While she was serving in the middle of the Kalahari Desert , she decided what she wanted to do with the rest or re life. [3] “At one point I had sort of an epiphany, sitting at my desk looking out over the bus, als I voortvloeien I wanted to do engineering for developing countries,” Smith said. [3] “In Botswana, I was teaching and dan working for the ministry of agriculture as a Beekeeper, and I remember thinking to myself dat I really liked doing development work, but I wished Could do some engineering too, Because I like creative problem solving, “says Smith. [4] “People in the world ontwikkelingslanden scrape everytime last ounce of life dat ze kan out of objects, and my students-used to bring me things to fix, and I always Enjoyed being loveable to do that.” [4]

Academic career

She is a senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT Specializing in engineering design and ‘appropriate technology for developing countries. She founded the D-Lab program at MIT welke introduces students to technologische, social, and economic problems of the Third World . She’ll be co-founded Innovations in International Health to Facilitate collaboration onder researchers around the world to developement medical technologies for resource-poor settings. She teaches the courses SP.721 / 11025: D-Lab: Development and SP.722 / 2722: D-Lab Design . She has taught in the adjusted 2.72: Elements of Mechanical Design.

Smith encourages women to Become engineers hoewel de she dislikes being referred to as a woman engineer. [4] “Actually, Because my class involves humanitarian engineering , I very rarely harbor tomorrow is dan women. There harbor leg times where there port leg in women and one man. This is not Surprising, bepaald dat women of or in want to see an application to what they’re learning dat ze feel is Worthwhile “, says Smith. [4] “But I’m not involved any ‘mn projects to encouragement women engineers, Because I dislike being referred to as a woman engineer. I do not like programs dat single out woman engineers than mn achievers just for being women. I think dat it arnt be coincidental. ” [4]


Smith’s designs include the screen less hammer mill and the phase-change incubator , and she is ook involved with the application of the Malian peanut Sheller in Africa. [6] She is ook one of the founders of the popular MIT IDEAS Competition . In 2000, Smith won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize therein receptacles Inventors who are’ll be good role models. [3]

Motorized hammermill

Main article: Screen Less hammer mill

Smith invented a Motorized hammermill therein Converts grain flour JSON welke she successfully tested in Senegal. [3] The problem with other motor-driven mills is dat de screen dat filters out rocks and coins Could Not Be made locally, anyone and it Could tasks verschillende months to get a new screen. Smith’s mill sifted out finished flour aerodynamically using a simpler design dat Could be Manufactured locally, anyone at village Blacksmiths. “It’s nice-when looking at things differently is a good thing, and not something where you get zero credit on a problem,” Smith said. [3] Smith Planned to use some of the prize money from the $ 30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize to produce and distribute the mills. [3]

Phase-change incubator

Main article: Phase-change incubator

Smith worked on an incubator therein requires no electricity. [3] The device was designed to oorspronkelijk diagnosis sexually transmitted diseases. [3] The phase-change incubator was awarded the 1999 BF Goodrich Collegiate Inventor’s Award for $ 20,000. Smith Planned to start a company around the incubator. [3] “I’m not a person who likes money, so Whether it makes a profit is Neither here nor there,” Smith said. [3] “I did not want to be in the position of closing down the product Because it was not making money. That’s not the point of the product.” [3]


With other members of D-Lab and community partners, [7] Smith has developed a small, easy-to-make Cornsheller “for Removing the Dried kernels from an ear or corn. The corn Sheller kan worden Either casted in aluminum or made from a sheet or metal. ” [8] More information on the Cornsheller waaronder instructions on how to make it are available under a Creative Commons License at the D-Lab Resources page .

IDEAS competition

Smith co-founded the MIT IDEAS Competition where teams of student engineers design projects to make life Easier in the ontwikkelingslanden world. [4] “Some of the IDEAS competition winners port leg very successful,” says Smith. “The compounding water filter, welke removes MANGANESE and pathogens, are now deployed quite extensively in Nepal. The Kinkajou microfilm projector, used in night-time literacy classes are being deployed in Mali. We’re working to Commercialize a system for testing water for potability . It’s in the field in verschillende countries, but not on a widespread basis. We’re looking towards doing a trial or aerosol vaccines in Pakistan, so that’s exciting. ” [4]

International Development Design Summit

Main article: International Development Design Summit

Smith is one of the lead organizers of the International Development Design Summit (IDDS), held annually to study problems in the ontwikkelingslanden world and create real, workable solutions to them. [9] “I believe very Strongly dat solutions to problems in the ontwikkelingslanden world are best created in collaboration with the people who will be using them”, Smith said. [9] “On Bringing this group of people together, we get an incredibly broad range of Backgrounds and experiences. [9]

WorldChanging Reported on August 14, de 2007 that the results from the first International Development Design Summit had leg very positive with end products waaronder an off-grid Refrigeration unit tailored for rural areas using an Evaporative cooling method to store Perishable food and a low-cost greenhouse from recycled and widely available materials. [10]

More information on projects from IDDS kan be found here .

Rethink Relief Design Workshop

Smith was instrumental in customizing the Rethink Relief Design Workshop in 2011. Rethink Relief is “dedicated to customizing technologies for humanitarian relief therein specifiek address the gap tussen short-term relief and long-term sustainable development.” [11]

The workshop was co-organized by Industrial Design faculty at the Delft University in October 2011 of Technology and D-Lab and MIT. It brought` together 26 people to explore the differences in thinking with relief organizations, development organizations, and designers. Groups worked Throughout a week to create concepts and prototypes to address challenges in relief work. These addressed clean water availability, re-purposing or aid materials, transportation challenges, and first aid supply logistics. [12]

More information on Rethink Relief, haar outputs, and follow-on work kan be found here .

Creative Capacity Building (CCB)

Smith and colleagues at D-Lab port been working on a new type of curriculum – Creative Capacity Building or CCB. The purpose of CCB is to place “the expertise in the village Limit download at MIT.” [13]

The CCB curriculum teaches the design process without expecting strong literacy or other academic training. [14] The goal is personen, groups and communities who are loveable to not only articulate hun needs but to IFI solutions.


  • Collegiate Inventors Award , 1999 (for the phase-change incubator)
  • First woman to win the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize , in 2000.
  • MacArthur Fellowship , 2004-2009.
  • Time Magazine named Amy Smith one hun Time 100 Most Influential People for 2010 in the Thinkers category


  1. Jump up^ “Smith, Amy” inAZ of Women in Science and Math, by Lisa Yount (Infobase Publishing, 2007) p275
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  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p “Technology as a form of altruism” by Roberta Holland, Boston Business Journal , February 25, 2000
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i “Interview: Amy Smith, Inventor” by Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine, September 1, 2006
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b “A MacGyver for the Third World” by Kari Lynn Dean, World News , October 22, 2004
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  9. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Making a difference in the world ontwikkelingslanden” Heather Manning, MIT News , July 13, 2007.]
  10. Jump up^ “South-South Design Flourishes at MIT Summit”at Jonathon Greenblatt,World Changing. August 14, 2007
  11. Jump up^ “Rethink Relief – About” . Retrieved May 27, 2012 .
  12. Jump up^ “Rethink Relief Projects” . Retrieved May 27, 2012 .
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