Students Design Low-Tech Ways to Help Improve Lives of Rural Poor

In an unusual international conference led by MIT, students work with others to create 'prototypes, not papers'

Students Design Low-Tech Ways to Help Improve Lives of Rural Poor 1

Megan Lindow for the Chronicle

Rayshawn Whitford, a senior at Babson College, shows Ghanaians a battery-powered lantern that also serves to repel mosquitoes, as a way of preventing the spread of malaria.

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close Students Design Low-Tech Ways to Help Improve Lives of Rural Poor 1

Megan Lindow for the Chronicle

Rayshawn Whitford, a senior at Babson College, shows Ghanaians a battery-powered lantern that also serves to repel mosquitoes, as a way of preventing the spread of malaria.

Inside a workshop at the edge of this city's scrappy industrial district, groups of university students, engineers, and others are showcasing a panoply of inventions, all aimed at improving the lives of the rural poor.

The scene is vibrant and chaotic. A village grandmother who had never before seen the city turns the crank of a device constructed to extract oil from the seeds of a moringa tree. Other people crowd around tables to check out a mosquito-repelling, battery-powered