MIT News –
In 2016, Tanzania passed a bill to cover medical expenses for expectant mothers. But pregnant women in rural parts of the country face a huge obstacle in getting the care they need: reliable transportation. Women in villages that can’t be reached by traditional ambulances have to resort to walking for hours to the nearest hospital, often while already in labor, putting their health and safety in danger.
That same year, students and instructors in the MIT D-Lab class 2.729 (Design for Scale) collaborated with community partner Olive Branch for Children to develop a solution called the Okoa ambulance. “Okoa produces a trailer that can attach to any motorcycle, providing safe transportation from rural areas to hospitals,” explains Toria Yan, a senior studying mechanical engineering at MIT.
Seven thousand miles away, Yan and her fellow students in 2.729 worked on optimizing the design of the Okoa ambulance to minimize production and shipping costs and increase manufacturability.
Throughout the fall 2018 semester, Okoa was one of four real-world projects students in 2.729 worked on — others included a floating water pump for agricultural irrigation in Nepal, an air quality detector for kitchens in India, and a plastic toilet that provides safe sanitation in densely populated areas of Guatemala.