A redesign competition for the “Solar Computer Lab in the Box” was held in the fall 2012 semester at IIT. The competition, sponsored by Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), was to improve the design from lessons learned in the field. In August 2012, one of the first designs was shipped to Chuuk, Micronesia and installed at a school on Udot Island. We learned a lot first-hand from this trip, such as about the box’s weight, size (it needs to be smaller to fit into the cargo hold of a Boeing 727, the main type of cargo flights in Micronesia), ease of construction, and materials.
The image above comes courtesy of the redesign contest winners: Team Yellow Room, whose team members were Sunny Patel (3rd year Aerospace Engineering major), Manuel Leon (3rd year Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering major), and Sebastian Morales (4th year Mechanical Engineering major). Congratulations to Team Yellow Room!
A cool item they have added is a hinge-able top to the table. With that, the top can be opened and the laptops or tablets can be stored inside. We will be looking at outfitting it with some type of a lock, for schools where security may be an issue. It is also getting more Ikea-like with its design and less tools needed to assemble on site. I hope to kick off a team to start building this new prototype in March. I have also asked the Yellow Room Team to consider what will happen when we change out 6 laptops for 10 Android based 10” tablets: how will the design change? One of the biggest impacts, I see, will be a smaller solar power system, as the total wattage demands drops from 90 to 30, which will save in both size and weight. We may have two designs: The one pictured above, and another one that fits into a suitcase… On March 6th, I will discuss the trip and the redesign at a UC Berkeley CITRIS event.