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TED2006

Amy Smith: Simple designs to save a life

Amy Smith 与您分享简便又能救人的设想

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厨房油烟造成发展中国家每年200万人死亡。麻省理工学院工程师艾米.史密斯与您分享一个既吸引人又简单的解决之道:转农业废物为干净木炭。

- inventor, engineer
Amy Smith designs cheap, practical fixes for tough problems in developing countries. Among her many accomplishments, the MIT engineer received a MacArthur "genius" grant in 2004 and was the first woman to win the Lemelson-MIT Prize for turning her ideas into inventions. Full bio

说到发明
00:25
In terms of invention,
00:26
I'd like to tell you the tale
of one of my favorite projects.
我想跟你们说说我最得意的一个项目
00:29
I think it's one of the most exciting
that I'm working on,
我觉得它是我现在做的最令我兴奋的项目
同时也是最简单的一个
00:32
but I think it's also the simplest.
这个项目很可能极大地影响世界
00:34
It's a project that has the potential
to make a huge impact around the world.
它能解决目前世界上最严重的健康问题之一
00:39
It addresses one of the biggest
health issues on the planet,
这个问题是5岁以下儿童死亡的头号杀手
00:42
the number one cause of death
in children under five.
是什么呢? 水媒传染疾病?痢疾?营养不良?
00:46
Which is ...?
00:48
Water-borne diseases?
Diarrhea? Malnutrition?
都不对,是吸入厨房油烟
00:52
No.
00:53
It's breathing the smoke
from indoor cooking fires --
导致急性呼吸道感染,你相信吗?
00:57
acute respiratory infections
caused by this.
01:00
Can you believe that?
我感到很震惊也很可怕
01:02
I find this shocking
and somewhat appalling.
我们能否发明更清洁的炊事燃料?
01:05
Can't we make
cleaner burning cooking fuels?
更好的炉灶?
01:08
Can't we make better stoves?
这个问题为何每年能杀死200多万人呢?
01:10
How is it that this can lead
to over two million deaths every year?
我知道Bill Joy和大家讲过
01:14
I know Bill Joy was talking to you
about the wonders of carbon nanotubes,
碳纳管的奇妙之处
那今天我就和大家讲讲
01:18
so I'm going to talk to you
about the wonders of carbon macro-tubes,
大碳管也就是木炭的妙用
01:22
which is charcoal.
01:24
(Laughter)
这是一张海地乡村的照片,海地国土面积的98%如今都没有森林覆盖了
01:26
So this is a picture of rural Haiti.
01:28
Haiti is now 98 percent deforested.
整个海地岛屿都是这幅景象
01:31
You'll see scenes like this
all over the island.
这造成了各种环境问题
01:34
It leads to all sorts
of environmental problems
以及一些影响海地人民的其他问题
01:37
and problems that affect people
throughout the nation.
01:41
A couple years ago
there was severe flooding
几年前一场洪水肆虐
夺走了几千人的生命
01:43
that led to thousands of deaths --
这都是因为
01:45
that's directly attributable to the fact
山上没有树来巩固土壤
01:47
that there are no trees on the hills
to stabilize the soil.
所以一旦下雨,雨水混杂泥土直接冲入河流,造成洪灾
01:50
So the rains come --
01:51
they go down the rivers
and the flooding happens.
这里没树主要是因为
01:55
Now one of the reasons
why there are so few trees is this:
人们烧饭需要燃料
01:58
people need to cook,
02:00
and they harvest wood
and they make charcoal in order to do it.
于是人们把木材做成木炭
并不是海地人不重视环境保护
02:04
It's not that people are ignorant
to the environmental damage.
他们明白环境重要,但是他们无可奈何
02:07
They know perfectly well,
but they have no other choice.
这里没有化石燃料
02:09
Fossil fuels are not available,
太阳能也不是很好用
02:11
and solar energy doesn't cook the way
that they like their food prepared.
02:16
And so this is what they do.
所以这也算是无奈之举
你常能看到这样一家人一起去森林里
02:18
You'll find families like this who go out
into the forest to find a tree,
砍了树,再做成木炭
02:23
cut it down and make charcoal out of it.
毫无疑问,人们已经很努力
02:27
So not surprisingly,
02:28
there's a lot of effort that's been done
to look at alternative cooking fuels.
找寻这种燃料的替代品了
4年前,我和一群学生去海地
02:34
About four years ago, I took
a team of students down to Haiti
和当地的和平队志愿者一起工作
02:37
and we worked with
Peace Corps volunteers there.
02:39
This is one such volunteer
有一个志愿者
02:41
and this is a device that he had built
in the village where he worked.
在他呆的村庄里发明了这个小玩意儿
02:44
And the idea was
that you could take waste paper;
就是把废纸
压缩成块状用来燃烧
02:47
you could compress it
02:48
and make briquettes
that could be used for fuel.
但是它烧得很慢
02:51
But this device was very slow.
我们工程系的学生就拿来改良了一下
02:53
So our engineering students
went to work on it
做了一点小改动之后
02:56
and with some very simple changes,
02:58
they were able to triple
the throughput of this device.
它的效率提高了3倍
03:01
So you could imagine
they were very excited about it.
他们当时非常激动
后来他们还把这些纸砖块带回麻省大学做测试
03:04
And they took the briquettes back to MIT
so that they could test them.
结果却发现这些东西不能燃烧
03:08
And one of the things
that they found was they didn't burn.
学生们都挺失望的
03:13
So it was a little
discouraging to the students.
03:15
(Laughter)
如果你仔细看,在这儿,
03:17
And in fact, if you look closely,
03:19
right here you can see
it says, "US Peace Corps."
你就会发现“美国和平队”字样
因为在那个村庄里根本没废纸
03:23
As it turns out, there actually wasn't
any waste paper in this village.
或许这仪器用来处理政府文书倒是挺好的
03:27
And while it was a good use
of government paperwork
03:30
for this volunteer to bring it
back with him to his village,
让那个志愿者把政府文书带回到那个村子
不过政府机关离那个村子有足足800公里之遥
03:33
it was 800 kilometers away.
所以我们就想琢磨个更好的办法
03:35
And so we thought perhaps
there might be a better way
03:38
to come up with
an alternative cooking fuel.
来制造炊事燃料的替代品
我们希望这种新燃料
03:41
What we wanted to do
is we wanted to make a fuel
03:43
that used something that was
readily available on the local level.
能就地取材
海地到处都有小规模的制糖厂
03:47
You see these all over Haiti as well.
03:48
They're small-scale sugar mills.
03:50
And the waste product from them
这些厂的废料
也就是榨完甘蔗之后剩下的东西叫“甘蔗渣”
03:52
after you extract the juice
from the sugarcane
03:54
is called "bagasse."
这个没啥用,也没营养价值
03:56
It has no other use.
03:57
It has no nutritional value,
so they don't feed it to the animals.
当饲料都不够好
04:00
It just sits in a pile near the sugar mill
until eventually they burn it.
人们就把成堆的甘蔗渣堆在制糖厂外,最后拿来烧掉
而我们就想
04:05
What we wanted to do was
we wanted to find a way
变废为宝
04:08
to harness this waste resource
and turn it into a fuel
把那些甘蔗渣做成人人都能方便使用的燃料
04:11
that would be something
that people could easily cook with,
就像木炭一样
04:14
something like charcoal.
接下来的几年时间里,我和我的学生就在开发合适的生产工艺
04:16
So over the next couple of years,
04:18
students and I worked
to develop a process.
首先我们把甘蔗渣放入一个窑炉
04:21
So you start with the bagasse,
and then you take a very simple kiln
这种炉子很好做,拿一个废弃的55加仑容积的油桶就可以改装了
04:25
that you can make out of
a waste fifty five-gallon oil drum.
然后我们点燃甘蔗渣,让它烧一小会儿以后就把炉封好
04:28
After some time, after setting it on fire,
04:31
you seal it to restrict the oxygen
that goes into the kiln,
不要让空气进去
最后就制成了这种炭化材料
04:35
and then you end up
with this carbonized material here.
但是,这个不好用,因为颗粒太细了
04:38
However, you can't burn this.
04:40
It's too fine and it burns too quickly
to be useful for cooking.
用来烧饭的话一下就烧完了
所以我们就设法把它压缩成块
04:45
So we had to try to find a way
to form it into useful briquettes.
正好,我的一个学生是加纳人
04:49
And conveniently,
one of my students was from Ghana,
记得他母亲给他做过一道菜叫“木薯糊”
04:52
and he remembered a dish his mom
used to make for him called "kokonte,"
04:56
which is a very sticky porridge
made out of the cassava root.
就是用木薯的根烧成的很稠的粥
04:59
And so what we did was we looked,
于是我们就四下寻找
05:01
and we found that cassava
is indeed grown in Haiti,
发现海地也种植木薯,只不过叫法不同
05:04
under the name of "manioc."
其实世界上很多地方都有木薯
05:06
In fact, it's grown all over the world --
虽然名称各异,东西都是一样的
05:08
yucca, tapioca, manioc, cassava,
it's all the same thing --
05:11
a very starchy root vegetable.
就是含淀粉的食用其块状根的植物
你可以把它做成糊
05:13
And you can make a very thick,
sticky porridge out of it,
再用这个糊把木炭块粘在一起
05:17
which you can use to bind together
the charcoal briquettes.
我们就这么做了。 后来我们又去海地
05:21
So we did this. We went down to Haiti.
这些研究生就是第一所
05:24
These are the graduates
of the first Ecole de Charbon,
木炭学院的学生
05:27
or Charcoal Institute.
(笑)
05:28
And these --
05:30
(Laughter)
没错,所以我既是麻省理工的导师也是木碳学院的导师
05:31
That's right. So I'm actually
an instructor at MIT as well as CIT.
这些就是我们做的炭砖
05:37
And these are the briquettes that we made.
现在我们到亚洲再来看看印度
05:40
Now I'm going to take you
to a different continent.
05:44
This is India
这是印度最常见的炊事燃料——牛粪
05:45
and this is the most commonly used
cooking fuel in India.
05:48
It's cow dung.
这产生的油烟比海地的还厉害
05:50
And more than in Haiti,
this produces really smoky fires,
你看,健康问题
05:54
and this is where you see
the health impacts
05:56
of cooking with cow dung
and biomass as a fuel.
就是因为燃烧牛粪或其他生物燃料造成的
儿童和妇女尤受影响
06:01
Kids and women
are especially affected by it,
06:03
because they're the ones
who are around the cooking fires.
因为他们经常在厨房里转悠
我们想看看是否能引进
06:06
So we wanted to see
06:08
if we could introduce
this charcoal-making technology there.
之前的制炭技术
可惜,印度没甘蔗
06:11
Well, unfortunately,
they didn't have sugarcane
也没木薯,但这些都难不倒我们
06:14
and they didn't have cassava,
06:15
but that didn't stop us.
我们还是就地取材
06:17
What we did was we found what were
the locally available sources of biomass.
用这里的麦秆和稻秆加工成燃料
06:21
And there was wheat straw
and there was rice straw in this area.
至于粘合剂
06:24
And what we could use as a binder
was actually small amounts of cow manure,
就用少量的牛粪
而原本这些牛粪都是直接做燃料的
06:28
which they used ordinarily for their fuel.
我们做了些对比试验,大家可以看到
06:31
And we did side-by-side tests,
06:33
and here you can see
the charcoal briquettes
炭砖和牛粪做对比
06:36
and here the cow dung.
很明显炭砖清洁得多
06:37
And you can see that it's a lot cleaner
burning of a cooking fuel.
而且烧水速度也快很多
06:41
And in fact, it heats the water
a lot more quickly.
06:43
And so we were very happy, thus far.
所以我们都很开心
但是我们发现
06:46
But one of the things that we found
06:47
was when we did side-by-side
comparisons with wood charcoal,
和一般木炭比
06:50
it didn't burn as long.
炭砖不持久,一下就碎了
06:52
And the briquettes crumbled a little bit
于是热量就分散开来,导致烧饭的时候很费力
06:54
and we lost energy as they fell apart
as they were cooking.
我们就想办法把炭砖做得更紧实
06:57
So we wanted to try to find a way
to make a stronger briquette
07:00
so that we could compete with
wood charcoal in the markets in Haiti.
这样就能和海地市场上的木炭竞争了
我们回到麻省,找出英斯特朗电子强力测试仪
07:05
So we went back to MIT,
07:07
we took out the Instron machine
分析出用多少压缩力度
07:09
and we figured out
what sort of forces you needed
压缩出的炭砖
07:12
in order to compress
a briquette to the level
会有一个质的飞跃
07:14
that you actually are getting
improved performance out of it?
一方面我的学生们在实验室里研究
07:17
And at the same time that we had
students in the lab looking at this,
一方面海地的社区伙伴也同我们合作
07:21
we also had community partners in Haiti
working to develop the process,
努力改良炭砖,让人人都用得上
07:28
to improve it and make it more accessible
to people in the villages there.
一段时间之后
07:33
And after some time,
我们发明了低成本制木炭法,新的产品
07:35
we developed a low-cost press
that allows you to produce charcoal,
比一般木炭燃烧更持久也更清洁
07:40
which actually now burns not only --
07:43
actually, it burns longer,
cleaner than wood charcoal.
所以我们现在就有一个
07:47
So now we're in a situation
where we have a product,
07:49
which is actually better than what
you can buy in Haiti in the marketplace,
比海地市场上的木炭更好的产品
这是一个很好的状况
07:54
which is a very wonderful place to be.
仅海地一国,每年就有3000万棵树被砍伐
07:58
In Haiti alone, about 30 million trees
are cut down every year.
08:03
There's a possibility
of this being implemented
这个产品如果能得到应用
能救很多树
08:06
and saving a good portion of those.
另外,这种新木炭每年能创收2.6亿美元
08:08
In addition, the revenue generated
from that charcoal is 260 million dollars.
这可是一大笔钱
08:14
That's an awful lot
for a country like Haiti --
海地人口800万
08:17
with a population of eight million
人均收入不足400美元
08:19
and an average income
of less than 400 dollars.
因此我们想在海地继续这个木炭项目
08:23
So this is where we're also moving ahead
with our charcoal project.
08:27
And one of the things
that I think is also interesting,
还有一件有意思的事情是
我有个朋友在伯克利大学是做风险研究的
08:30
is I have a friend up at UC Berkeley
who's been doing risk analysis.
08:34
And he's looked at the problem
of the health impacts
他研究了对健康
08:37
of burning wood versus charcoal.
木材和木炭分别会造成什么影响
08:39
And he's found that worldwide,
you could prevent a million deaths
他发现只要改用木炭作燃料
在世界范围内就能有100万人可以幸免于难
08:43
switching from wood
to charcoal as a cooking fuel.
这真是很棒
08:46
That's remarkable,
本来做木炭都是需要木材的
08:47
but up until now, there weren't ways
to do it without cutting down trees.
但现在我们能
08:51
But now we have a way
08:52
that's using an agricultural
waste material to create a cooking fuel.
变农业废物为炊事燃料
08:56
One of the really exciting things, though,
最让人激动的是
上个月我去加纳时了解到的一个信息
08:58
is something that came out of the trip
that I took to Ghana just last month.
这个不但非常酷
09:02
And I think it's the coolest thing,
而且在技术层面上也比前面的那些更简单
09:05
and it's even lower tech
than what you just saw,
如果你们能想象的到的话。就是这个。
09:08
if you can imagine such a thing.
09:10
Here it is.
这是什么呢?这是把玉米棒做成木炭
09:11
So what is this?
09:13
This is corncobs turned into charcoal.
这个的好处就是你都不需要把炭压缩成块
09:15
And the beauty of this is
that you don't need to form briquettes --
因为玉米棒本来就是一块块的。 这就是我的100美元手提电脑项目了(一个帮助促进不发达地区教育的事业)
09:19
it comes ready made.
09:20
This is my $100 laptop, right here.
和尼克一样,我也带了样品给大家
09:23
And actually, like Nick,
I brought samples.
(笑)
09:26
(Laughter)
09:28
So we can pass these around.
大家相互传一下
很好用,经过测试,能立刻燃烧
09:32
They're fully functional,
field-tested, ready to roll out.
09:36
(Laughter)
这项技术妙在
09:40
And I think one of the things
09:41
which is also remarkable
about this technology,
容易转让
09:46
is that the technology
transfer is so easy.
就甘蔗木炭而言
09:48
Compared to the sugarcane charcoal,
我们要培训当地人如何压缩木炭
09:51
where we have to teach people
how to form it into briquettes
还要多出一步制粘合剂
09:53
and you have the extra step
of cooking the binder,
玉米棒木炭自己成型,不需经过压缩的步骤
09:56
this comes pre-briquetted.
而这是我一生中最让我激动的事了
09:57
And this is about the most exciting
thing in my life right now,
也是我一个小小的遗憾的注脚
10:00
which is perhaps
a sad commentary on my life.
(笑)
10:04
(Laughter)
但是一旦你见过,就像第一排的人
10:06
But once you see it,
like you guys in the front row --
恩,对,反正
10:08
All right, yeah, OK.
10:10
So anyway --
(笑)
10:11
(Laughter)
我觉得这是最能
10:13
Here it is.
10:14
And this is, I think, a perfect example
体现罗伯特.怀特说的非零和事物
10:17
of what Robert Wright was talking about
in those non-zero-sum things.
这不光有利健康
10:22
So not only do you have health benefits,
有利环境
10:24
you have environmental benefits.
更难得的是
10:27
But this is one
of the incredibly rare situations
还有经济效益
10:30
where you also have economic benefits.
人们用废农作物就可以烧饭
10:33
People can make their own cooking fuel
from waste products.
10:36
They can generate income from this.
还能赚钱
10:38
They can save the money
that they were going to spend on charcoal
他们能省下原本买木炭的钱
10:41
and they can produce excess
and sell it in the market
自己生产销售
卖给别人
10:44
to people who aren't making their own.
难得的是,这不会造成
10:46
It's really rare
that you don't have trade-offs
健康与经济发展,或环境与经济不可兼得的窘境
10:48
between health and economics,
or environment and economics.
10:51
So this is a project
that I just find extremely exciting
所以这个项目最振奋人心了
我期望看到它未来的发展前景
10:55
and I'm really looking forward
to see where it takes us.
讲到未来
11:02
So when we talk about, now,
the future we will create,
我觉得有必要
11:06
one of the things
that I think is necessary
11:08
is to have a very clear vision
of the world that we live in.
清晰地认识我们所处的这个世界
我不是指我们自己生活的这个小世界
11:12
And now, I don't actually mean
the world that we live in.
11:16
I mean the world where women
spend two to three hours everyday
而是另一个世界。在那里,妇女每天花2-3个小时
碾谷才能养活家人
11:20
grinding grain for their families to eat.
在那里,所谓的高级建材
11:24
I mean the world
where advanced building materials
其实就是人工造的水泥屋顶板
11:27
means cement roofing tiles
that are made by hand,
在那里,就算你一天做10小时
11:30
and where, when you work 10 hours a day,
11:32
you're still only earning
60 dollars in a month.
一个月也才赚60美元
在那里,妇女和儿童成天做的就是打水,一年400亿小时
11:37
I mean the world
11:38
where women and children spend
40 billion hours a year fetching water.
工时相当加州所有劳动力的集合
11:45
That's as if the entire workforce
of the state of California
整年全职打水
11:49
worked full time for a year
doing nothing but fetching water.
如果这里是印度
11:53
It's a place where,
for example, if this were India,
那么在坐的只有三分之一的人有车
11:57
in this room, only three of us
would have a car.
如果是阿富汗
12:01
If this were Afghanistan,
在坐的只有一人知道怎么上网
12:02
only one person in this room
would know how the use the Internet.
如果是赞比亚,你们中就有300个农民
12:06
If this were Zambia --
12:08
300 of you would be farmers,
100个人有艾滋病或感染艾滋病毒
12:11
100 of you would have AIDS or HIV.
一半以上的人日收入不足1美元
12:14
And more than half of you would be living
on less than a dollar a day.
这些问题都摆在我们面前
12:19
These are the issues that we
need to come up with solutions for.
需要我们培训工程师
12:23
These are the issues that
we need to be training our engineers,
12:27
our designers, our business people,
our entrepreneurs to be facing.
设计师,商人,企业家来解决
这些才是需要尽快解决的问题
12:32
These are the solutions
that we need to find.
有些问题我觉得特别重要
12:34
I have a few areas that I believe
are especially important that we address.
一个就是寻找技术来推广小型金融和小型企业
12:41
One of them is creating technologies
12:43
to promote micro-finance
and micro-enterprise,
那生活在贫困线以下的人就有了出路
12:46
so that people who are living
below the poverty line
12:49
can find a way to move out --
而不是像现在这样
12:50
and that they're not doing it
通过传统的编篮子、养家禽来谋生
12:51
using the same traditional
basket making, poultry rearing, etc.
12:55
But there are new technologies
and new products
现在我们已经有了
12:57
that they can make on a small scale.
能小规模运作的新技术和新产品
13:00
The next thing I believe
另外,我们还需要为贫苦农民发明新技术
13:01
is that we need to create
technologies for poor farmers
增加农作物价值
13:06
to add value to their own crops.
我们还需要重新思考我们的发展策略
13:09
And we need to rethink
our development strategies,
推广教育
13:12
so that we're not promoting
educational campaigns
13:15
to get them to stop being farmers,
不是让他们都不做农民
13:17
but rather to stop being poor farmers.
而是不做穷苦农民
13:20
And we need to think
about how we can do that effectively.
我们还要思考如何提高效率
我们需要和社区合作
13:24
We need to work with the people
in these communities
提供他们所需的资源和工具
13:27
and give them the resources
and the tools that they need
来解决他们的问题。这是最好的方法
13:29
to solve their own problems.
13:31
That's the best way to do it.
我们不能只做外在的努力
13:33
We shouldn't be doing it from outside.
我们要创造未来,就要从现在开始
13:35
So we need to create this future,
and we need to start doing it now.
谢谢
13:40
Thank you.
13:41
(Applause)
(鼓掌)
13:46
Chris Anderson: Thank you, incredible.
13:49
Stay here.
主持人安德森:我们来看看有没有观众要提问的
13:51
Tell us -- just while we see
if someone has a question --
与此同时你能不能再说说你做过的其他事情
13:54
just tell us about one of the other things
that you've worked on.
艾米.史密斯:现在我们在研究
13:57
Amy Smith: Some of the other
things we're working on
低成本水质测试法
14:00
are ways to do low-cost
water quality testing,
帮助社区维护水系统
14:02
so that communities can maintain
their own water systems,
使他们知道他们的系统什么时候有效,什么时候需要清洁处理等等
14:05
know when they're working,
know when they treat them, etc.
14:07
We're also looking at low-cost
water-treatment systems.
我们也在寻求低成本水治理系统
比如利用太阳能消毒,这很棒的
14:10
One of the really exciting things
is looking at solar water disinfection
但我们还需要提高它的效率
14:13
and improving the ability
to be able to do that.
主持人:有什么瓶颈问题会阻碍这项技术得到推广?
14:17
CA: What's the bottleneck
preventing this stuff getting from scale?
是否需要企业家,风险资本帮助
14:21
Do you need to find entrepreneurs,
or venture capitalists,
或是其他帮助推广该技术?
14:24
or what do you need to take
what you've got and get it to scale?
艾米.史密斯:要的,这需要很多人合作
14:29
AS: I think it's large numbers
of people moving it forward.
这很难,因为这个市场很零散
14:32
It's a difficult thing --
14:33
it's a marketplace
which is very fragmented
消费群体又没什么收入
14:35
and a consumer population with no income.
所以美国的商业模式
14:37
So you can't use the same models
that you use in the United States
不能助其发展
14:40
for making things move forward.
14:42
And we're a pretty small staff,
而且我们人手不足,就我一个光杆司令
14:44
which is me.
14:45
(Laughter)
(笑)
所以我和我的学生会尽我们所能
14:47
So, you know,
I do what I can with the students.
我们有30个学生在这个领域研究
14:49
We have 30 students a year
go out into the field
如何应用并推广这些技术
14:52
and try to implement this
and move it forward.
另外,这些事是长期工程
14:54
The other thing is you have to do things
with a long time frame,
不可能一蹴而就
14:58
as, you know, you can't expect to get
something done in a year or two years;
这需要5-10年时间
15:02
you have to be looking
five or 10 years ahead.
但是我相信只要有信心我们就能成功
15:04
But I think with the vision to do that,
we can move forward.
Translated by Ying Cui
Reviewed by Guo Sheng

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About the speaker:

Amy Smith - inventor, engineer
Amy Smith designs cheap, practical fixes for tough problems in developing countries. Among her many accomplishments, the MIT engineer received a MacArthur "genius" grant in 2004 and was the first woman to win the Lemelson-MIT Prize for turning her ideas into inventions.

Why you should listen

Mechanical engineer Amy Smith's approach to problem-solving in developing nations is refreshingly common-sense: Invent cheap, low-tech devices that use local resources, so communities can reproduce her efforts and ultimately help themselves. Smith, working with her students at MIT's D-Lab, has come up with several useful tools, including an incubator that stays warm without electricity, a simple grain mill, and a tool that converts farm waste into cleaner-burning charcoal.

The inventions have earned Smith three prestigious prizes: the B.F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Award, the MIT-Lemelson Prize, and a MacArthur "genius" grant. Her course, "Design for Developing Countries," is a pioneer in bringing humanitarian design into the curriculum of major institutions. Going forward, the former Peace Corps volunteer strives to do much more, bringing her inventiveness and boundless energy to bear on some of the world's most persistent problems.

More profile about the speaker
Amy Smith | Speaker | TED.com