ENGR3290 Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship

Students gain experience innovating to address social challenges through a design and entrepreneurship approach that emphasizes context, collaboration, and sustainability. The focus is on alleviating poverty by deploying innovations in communities that generate income and meet daily human needs in areas like energy, water, health, agriculture, transportation, and communication. For example, students might create and test the technology for a micro energy utility, such as a concentrated-solar battery charging station, and the business model that makes it viable.

The course is run as a firm where students work in teams with community partners nationally and internationally to co-create and launch new products and ventures. Topics covered include the conditions and causes of poverty, approaches to poverty alleviation, cultural awareness and community engagement, affordable design principles and practices, and social venture models and strategies including financing and scaling. Groups of students travel to partner sites in countries like India, Morocco, Ghana and the U.S. to build relationships, gain contextual awareness, and implement projects.

This course is part of the ADE Program that also includes placement assistance to help students find internship and job opportunities in social enterprise. ADE is offered jointly with Babson College where students enroll in EPS 4515. Olin students can elect ADE as an alternative to the SCOPE Program to fulfill the Capstone requirement by registering for ENGR 4290 for two consecutive semesters beginning in the second semester of their junior year or the first semester of their senior year. They cannot change programs once they have completed registration. Alternatively, students can take this course for one semester to fulfill the Design Depth requirement by registering for ENGR 3290. Students who take ENGR 3290 can switch to ENGR 4290 for Capstone credit.