Projects

The main deliverable for the semester is a term project which includes a project proposal, a final class presentation, and participation in the D-Lab Showcase. Guidance on content, structure, etc. of the term project will be provided in class and on the course site. You can select an individual or a team project. For those working in teams, each team member must identify a specific area for which they are responsible and their specific contribution to the overall team. The term project may be done on the same topic as your WASH Tutorial, or it may be a separate topic.

Project Background

According to the WHO/UNICEF/JMP in their first report of the Sustainable Development Goals Period (2016–2030), Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Baselines:

  • 29% of the global population (2.1 billion people) lack safely managed drinking water services—meaning water at home, available when needed, free from contamination. 
  • 61% of the global population (4.5 billion people) lack safely managed sanitation services—meaning use of a toilet or latrine that leads to treatment or safe disposal of excreta.
  • 85% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to a handwashing facility with soap and water.
    • Data on handwashing facilities were too few to make a global estimate.

In this course, we address the Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) and Environment and Sustainability challenge:

“How do we provide safely managed drinking water for the 2.1 billion+ people; safely managed sanitation services for the 4.5+ billion people; and access to handwashing facilities and environmental sanitation i.e. a safe and healthy environment to the billions of people who currently lack these basic conditions of human well-being?”

Technically, we know how to provide safe drinking water and treated wastewater, and have done so in high income countries and communities over the past 100+ years with considerable success. The more complex, systems-level problem is how to do equitably, on a global scale across all populations, especially those in low-resource settings in a great variety of different cultures, geographical locations, and conditions. Microbial contamination is still considered the most critical risk factor in drinking water quality worldwide. However, chemical contaminants from natural and anthropogenic sources (arsenic, fluoride, pesticides, petrochemicals, salinity, and other chemicals of concern) are affecting billions of people. Mega-cities are often overwhelmed by tons of septic sludge and untreated municipal and industrial raw waste. Many rural areas frequently lack even the most basic sanitation facilities. Environmental contaminants are globally distributed, crossing boundaries beyond rich and poor. 

Scope Statement

The initial assignment for your WASH term project is a scope statement. You will be expected to have:

  1. Summary: A “scope of work” summary which describes in text your plan of action for the term. It may also include a problem statement, if you are addressing a specific problem, and a proposed solution. (However, if you have a more educational focus, it is also fine not to have a problem/solution orientation.)
  2. Tasks list: An outline of the key tasks you (and teammates?) intend to accomplish, week-by-week, throughout the semester.
  3. Budget: If you need funds to undertake your project, what budget do you need? Please distinguish between expenses needed during the term itself, such as for building a prototype, and subsequent travel during January, spring, or summer. (If you don’t need funds during the term or for travel, you can omit this section.)
  4. References list: A rigorous reference section that shows that you have done a serious literature review on your topic beyond simple Google searches.

The First Deliverable

The first deliverable for your WASH project is a proposal expanding on the scope statement. In it, you will be expected to include:

  1. Abstract: An abstract which describes your project and your plan of action for the term. It may also include a problem statement, if you are addressing a specific problem, and a proposed solution. (However, if you have a more educational focus, it is also fine not to have a problem/solution orientation.)
  2. Goals and objectives statement: Specify one key goal and two or more objectives.
  3. Gantt chart: Your tasks list, week-by-week, throughout the rest of the term. This could take the form of an Excel table with milestones and deliverables.
  4. Project description: 5–10+ pages of text that includes a literature review or “prior art review.” That submission should be at least several pages in length, with appropriate data, figures and/or graphics, but can be of any length necessary to cover your topic thoroughly. For example:
    • If you are interested in modifying the Caltech/Gates Foundation Reinvent the Toilet Design to a more affordable design, what other work has occurred in this space prior to the Caltech effort and prior to your effort?
    • If you are interested in creating a database of technologies for remediation of arsenic in drinking water in China, what are the technologies in that space that exist today?
    • If you are interested in building a rainwater harvesting system for a community in Rwanda affected by excessive fluoride in their drinking water, or a safe irrigation system using wastewater, what are the standard rainwater harvesting designs (or wastewater irrigation issues) that you intend to address? Is your design the same or different from existing system designs? 
  5. Budget: If you need funds to undertake your project, what budget do you need? (If you don’t need funds, omit this section.)
  6. References: A rigorous reference List, including complete reference details, plus any URL if a URL exists. References should use one of the standard formats (APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, etc.). For guidance, see this citation format guide or this citation style guide.

The Second and Final Deliverables

The second deliverable is a more complete version of the first deliverable.

You will receive thorough written critique on your first and second deliverables. Also, you will be given the opportunity to meet with the instructors to present your first or second deliverable in a one-on-one meeting and receive critical feedback towards helping advance your final deliverable. Your final deliverable should incorporate the feedback presented above and describe the progress made during the semester.

Final Presentation

The last two sessions of class will be devoted to presentation of your term projects. This will include the opportunity to share your term project on MIT OpenCourseware and also to potentially carry your project into the field, if this is something you wish to take further. Additionally, students will present at the D-Lab Showcase, an end of term event where D-Lab students from multiple classes share prototypes and other information about their projects.