Amy Smith

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= Amy Smith is an inventor who lectures at MIT and develops low-tech devices for use in developing countries.


From the Wikipedia:

"She is a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT specializing in engineering design and appropriate technology for developing countries. She founded the D-Lab program at MIT which introduces students to technological, social, and economic problems of the Third World. She teaches the courses SP.721/11.025: D-Lab Development, SP.722/2.722: D-Lab Design, and SP.784: Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries. She has taught in the past 2.72: Elements of Mechanical Design.

Smith encourages women to become engineers although she dislikes being referred to as a woman engineer. "Actually, because my class involves humanitarian engineering, I very rarely have more men than women. There have been times where there have been ten women and one man. This isn't surprising, given that women often want to see an application to what they're learning that they feel is worthwhile", says Smith. "But I'm not involved in any particular projects to encourage women engineers, because I dislike being referred to as a woman engineer. I don't like programs that single out woman engineers as particular achievers just for being women. I think that it should be coincidental."

Smith's designs include the screenless hammer mill and the phase-change incubator, and she is also involved with the application of the Malian peanut sheller in Africa. She is also one of the founders of the popular MIT IDEAS Competition.

Smith is one of the lead organizers of the first International Development Design Summit held at MIT from July 16 to August 10, 2007. the group talks about problems in the developing world and then creates real, workable solutions to them. "I believe very strongly that solutions to problems in the developing world are best created in collaboration with the people who will be using them", Smith said. "By bringing this group of people together, we get an incredibly broad range of backgrounds and experiences." (

More Information

Profile in the NYT Magazine, 2003, at