Inventors are inspirational. Amy B. Smith is an inventor, educator, humanitarian, and a founder of D-Lab at MIT. She has invented and helped start use of technologies in developing countries.
Amy B. Smith was born on November 4, 1962 in Lexington, Massachusetts. Her father, who was a professor at MIT, took the family to live in India for a year while he taught at a university there. Being exposed to poverty there was a life-shaping experience for Amy. They returned to Massachusetts and she graduated from Lexington High School. She was involved in her church, music, and sports. However, living in India and seeing another path that children had to take stuck with her. She went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1984. Next, she served four years in the Peace Corps.
While in the Peace Corps, she was a volunteer in Botswana. She worked as a teacher and for the ministry of agriculture as a beekeeper. She helped people fix worn out items so they could continue to be used. This involved creative problem solving and gave her hope for the people to use technology to help themselves.
She returned to MIT for her Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She became a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. She founded the D-Lab program at MIT to introduce students to technological, social, and economic problems in Third World countries. She co-founded Innovations in International Health to develop medical technologies in resource-poor settings.
Amy’s created inventions to aid people’s lives in developing countries. She invented a motorized hammermill that could be manufactured by local blacksmiths in Senegal or another developing country. In 2000, she won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize and used part of the $30,000 prize to produce an distribute the mills. She, also, invented a phase change incubator that requires no electricity.This had won the 1999 B.F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventor’s Award and $20,000. She decided to start a company around the incubator. With people in D-Lab and community partners she invented a small, easy-to-make Cornsheller. This devices removes the dried kernels from an ear of corn.
At MIT, Amy co-founded the MIT IDEAS Competition. This competition has teams of students create projects to make life easier in developing countries. Successful projects have been designed and invented. She is, also, a lead organizer of the International Development Design Summit. This summit studies problems and works on solutions for the developing world. In 2011, Amy was one of the creators of the Rethinking Relief Design Workshop.
Amy B. Smith has won awards and been given honors for her work. Time Magazine named her one of their Time 100 Most Influential People for 2010. Be inspired! Have a bright day!