Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Teams meet informally outside of lecture sessions for an average of seven hours per week.

Course Goals

  1. Gain awareness of communities in the developing world and the technical challenges they face
  2. Learn about appropriate prosthesis technologies for developing communities, their impact, and how they can be conceived, designed and implemented
  3. Explore the way MIT can take in order to help people in developing countries
  4. Learn the hands-on skills required to implement selected development projects

Course Structure

In the first half of the course, students learn through lectures the difficulties facing developing countries, available prosthetic technologies in these countries, advanced prosthetics concepts, and review previous D-Lab World Prosthetics student projects. In the second half of the course, students form teams of three to five students to design and prototype orthotic and prosthetic devices. Projects include a low-cost prosthetic knee, a pediatric extendable prosthetic leg, a cosmetic shell for prosthetic feet, and a vacuum-casting system. At the end of the course, teams present their outcomes in final written and presented reports.

Course Text

There is no textbook for this course. All required and optional readings are listed on the Lectures and Readings page.


There are seven problem sets for this course to be completed by each student. Student teams also complete short (<20 minute) mid-term and final presentations to the class, and submit a two-page (minimum) written report to be shared with Jaipur Foot.


Class participation 15%
Homework assignments 15%
Mid-term presentation 30%
Final presentation 40%


1 Class overview, introduction Ken Endo  
2 Project presentations by TAs Ken Endo Homework 1 due
3 Design for the developing world Ken Endo Homework 2 due
4 Challenge map, idea generation Ken Endo Homework 3 due
5 Case study: Synergy foot Ken Endo Homework 4 due
6 The Jaipur foot Dr. Pooja Mukul Homework 5 due
7 Prosthetic technology in the United States Bob Emerson  
8 Mid-term presentations Bob Emerson  
9 Transtibial prosthesis Bob Emerson  
10 Transfemoral prosthesis Bob Emerson Homework 6 due
11 Pediatric prosthesis Bob Emerson Homework 7 due
12 Human biomechanics Hugh Herr  
13 Stanford Knee Joel Sadler  
14 MIT museum D-Lab showcase    
15 Final report submission