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Ideas Resources

Listed below are some links to additional funding sources such as fellowships, awards and competitions, as well as links to MIT's physical and information resources. Additionally, we've listed some MIT classes that have proven useful to IDEAS entrants in the past.

If there is some information or equipment that you need in order to get your IDEAS project off the ground, please do not hesitate to contact us here at ideas-admin@mit.edu. Our staff is made up of people specializing in a variety of engineering and service disciplines, so there is a good chance that we can either answer your questions ourselves or find someone else who can. We also encourage all IDEAS teams to find mentors who can provide more personal help with your project development. See the Get Connected section of this site if you are looking for teammates, mentors, or advice.

12.213 Alternate Energy Sources
Instructor: M.N. Toskoz, F.D. Morgan

Units: 1-4-1

Explores a number of alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy (heat from the Earth's interior), wind, natural gas, and solar energy. Includes a field trip to visit sites where alternative energy is being harvested or generated. Content and focus of subject varies from year to year.

SP.721 D-Lab: Development
Instructor: Amy Smith

Units: 3-1-5

Issues in international development, appropriate technology and project implementation addressed through lectures, case studies, guest speakers and laboratory exercises. Students form project teams to partner with community organizations in developing countries, and formulate plans for an IAP site visit. (Previous field sites include Haiti, Brazil, Honduras and India.) Recitation sections focus on specific project implementation, and include cultural, social, political, environmental and economic overviews of the target countries as well as an introduction to the local languages.

SP.776 Design for Demining
Instructors: A. Heafitz, B. Linder

Units: 2-1-6

Students learn about humanitarian demining as a response to land mines left over from old conflicts that maim or kill civilians. Students design and build a device to aid the demining community. Field trips and guest speakers enhance the study of demining. Topics include the expense, time, and danger involved in removing mines as well as the impact to the citizens and economy if the mines are not removed.


SP.722 D-Lab: Design
Instructors: Amy Smith, J.K. Vandiver, D.R. Wallace

Units: 3-0-9

Addresses problems faced by underserved communities with a focus on design, experimentation, and prototyping processes. Particular attention placed on constraints faced when designing for developing countries. Multidisciplinary teams work on long-term projects in collaboration with community partners, field practitioners, and experts in relevant fields. Topics covered include design for affordability, manufacture, sustainability, and strategies for working effectively with community partners and customers. Students may continue projects begun in SP.721.


1.851J Water and Sanitation Infrastructure in Developing Countries
Instructors: Various

Units: Arranged

Principles of infrastructure planning in developing countries, with a focus on appropriate and sustainable technologies for water and sanitation. Incorporates technical, socio-cultural, public health, and economic factors into the planning and design of water and sanitation systems. Upon completion, students are able to plan simple, yet reliable, water supply and sanitation systems for developing countries that are compatible with local customs and available human and material resources. Graduate and upper division students from any department who are interested in international development at the grassroots level are encouraged to participate in this interdisciplinary subject.


11.484 Project Evaluation in Developing Countries
Instructors: A.M. Kim

Units: 3-0-9

Covers techniques of financial analysis of investment expenditurs as well as the economic and distributive appraisal of development projects. Critical analysis of these tools and their role in the political economy of international development. Topics include alternative planning strategies for conditions of uncertainty, organizations and project cycle management, the political environment and the interactions of clients and advisers, engineers, planners, policy analysts, and other professionals.


MAS.665 Developmental Entrepreneurship
Instructors: A. Pentland

Units: 3-0-9

Develop innovative business plans for the 1K competition in the area of social innovation/sustainable development. Students form teams of four, usually including both technology and business students, to repeatedly devise and revise business plans that use innovations in technology and organization to create businesses that can transform the lives of at least 1B people. Enrollment limited to 25.


15.395 Entrepreneurship without Borders
Instructors: S. Johnson, R.S. Locke

Units: 3-0-6

Examines the opportunities and problems for entrepreneurs outside the US, particularly in emerging markets. Students gain understanding of the linkage between the business environment, the institutional framework, and new business creation. They also learn the analytics of venture finance. In addition to discussing the range of global entrepreneurial situations, student groups pick one particular market opportunity on which to focus and develop an outline business plan. Classroom interactions based primarily on case studies.


15.389 Global Entrepreneurship Lab: Emerging Markets
Instructors: S. Johnson, S. Loessberg

Units: 6-0-6

Enables teams of students to work with the top management of global start-ups and gain experience in starting and running a new enterprise outside the United States. Focuses on start-ups operating in various emerging markets. Lectures expose students to the issues and policies that affect the climate for innovation and start-up success around the world. Begins in Fall term and continues for three weeks during IAP, when students spend time at project sites. Concludes with poster session in GLAB day at beginning of the Spring term. Students must complete all three components to receive credit. Restricted to graduate students.


2.00B Solving Real Problems
Instructors: D.R. Wallace, D.D. Frey

Units: 2-3-4

Solve real problems in a project-centric class with 5 labs, each focusing on a different project theme and working directly with the potential beneficiaries of your work. Improve problem-solving skills while working on projects ranging from toys for children to amusement park rides and products for use in developing countries. Students select a project-themed lab in conjunction with subject. Develop creativity, visualization, mathematical estimation and modeling, prototyping, and team management techniques that help with the project. Includes exercises in written and oral communication and team building. Limited enrollment. Preference to freshmen.


5.92 Energy, Environment, and Society
Instructors: J.I. Steinfeld, J.W. Tester

Units: 4-2-6

Explores energy issues and community dynamics at the local level: on the MIT campus and in the cities of Cambridge and Boston. Staff in the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment work with community contacts to develop project ideas of concern to community leaders that have potential to affect local energy management. Students are involved in all aspects of project design, from the refinement of research questions to conclusions and presentation of findings. Includes exercises in written and oral communication and team building. Limited enrollment. Preference to freshmen.

IAP 2008 Classes

Independent Activities
Maria Yang

IAP Special Studies in Urban Studies and Planning
Getting Things Implemented: Strategy, People, Performance and Leadership
Xavier de Souza Briggs

Special Seminars in Management
High-Tech Start-ups
Ken Morse, Jack Gill

Special Seminar in Management
Projects for Global Health Delivery
Anjali Sastry, Paulo Goncalves, Erika Wagner, Alison Hynd and Joost Bonsen

Special Seminar in Management
Distributed Leadership Workshop
Thomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski, Deborah Ancona

Special Seminar in Management
The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans
Joseph G. Hadzima, Jr.

Special Seminars in Management
Starting and Building a Successful High-Tech Venture
Michael Grandinetti

Introduction to Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Dr. Rebecca Betensky, Dr. Miguel Hernan

Biomedical Enterprise Clinical Experience I
Dr. Rox Anderson

How to Win the IDEAS Competition: Words of Wisdom from Judges and Past Winners
Alison Hynd
Thu Jan 10, 06-08:00pm, 4-153
Enrollment limited: advance sign up required
Signup by: 09-Dec-2007

Intellectual Property Clinic
Alison Hynd
Tue Jan 15, 06-08:00pm, 5-134
No limit but advance sign up required (see contact below)
Signup by: 11-Jan-2008

Introduction to Machine Tools
Mark Belanger
Mon Jan 7 thru Thu Jan 10, 09am-12:00pm, 44-023
Enrollment limited: advance sign up required (see contact below)
Signup by: 17-Dec-2007

Yunus Innovation Challenge Lunch
Alison Hynd
Wed Jan 30, 12-02:00pm, 4-149
Enrollment limited: advance sign up required (see contact below)
Signup by: 29-Jan-2008

Making the Most of Your Presentation
Dr. Jean-luc Doumont, Communication Consultant
Mon Jan 28, 02-04:00pm, 4-370
No enrollment limit, no advance sign up


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Public Service Center

MIT Libraries

Design for Developing Countries, a website describing various "Appropriate Technologies" recently developed at MIT

MIT Hobby Shop

Edgerton Center Shop

MIT Copy Technologies Center

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Charrette: (local) art supplies, graphics and repro services

McMaster-Carr: many, many mechanical components, mail order

Online Metals

The Home Depot

Thomas Regional: (vendor locator services)

Berg: mail order

Boca Bearing

Boston Gear: (local)

Electro Sales Co.: (local) motor distributer

Grainger: (local)

Lord Corporation: vibration isolation products

PIC Design: (mail order)

Small Parts (mail order)

Stock Drive Products (mail order)

*Thanks to the MIT Mechanical Engineering Resources page for the great materials resources!

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The following materials and equipment are available to help you develop and display your IDEAS projects:

  • Duct Tape
  • Flatbed trucks
  • Video Cameras
  • Digital Still Cameras
  • Old-fashioned and digital projectors
  • High speed recording equipment
  • Display boards
  • Forks
  • Hand tools
  • Computers (MIT Athena and WinAthena machines)

Please contact us at ideas-admin@mit.edu if you are interested in using any of the above. And if you need something that is not listed, drop us an email and we'll see what we can find.

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MIT Public Service Grants and Fellowships

MIT Service Learning Grants


MIT Community Service Fund

Stanford University BASES Social E-Challenge

Collegiate Inventors Award

Lemelson-MIT Awards

Rolex Awards

Hass Social Venture Competition

MIT 100K Competition

Harvard Business School, Social Enterprise Business Plan Contest

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Design That Matters

Practical Action


Whirlwind Wheelchair International

Center for Social Innovation (Stanford University)
Ford Foundation Grant Database
Volunteer Solutions

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