Module 00- Micro-economy Kit

Micro-economy Kit Overview

Student Design Team Goal in ME 2700: Create a micro-economy kit (design project)

As an engineer, you directly touch people’s lives by being instrumental in designing products! In ME 2700, students work in teams and engaged in creating a micro-economy kit (project) that encourages/promotes self-sustainability and economic growth for underdeveloped/developing nations. In order to accomplish this task, your design team must:

  1. Perform research in order to identify a region/country and target population who are experiencing a basic need shortcoming/issue/concern.
  2. Design an engineering solution (a product or process) that would help the target population, and:
    • Will allow them to redirect time and resources to a different activity that positively impacts quality of life
    • Meets a basic need in a developing/underdeveloped nation   
    • Will improve or create a self-sustaining economic activity 
    • Will be made from a low cost kit, maximizing “local content/materials” 
    • Can be sold and serviced by local artisans
    • Promotes and integrates sustainability

Start simple.

Use resources immediately available to you. Befriend Google, the ISU Library, and search the following:

Photo of two men hooking up 12 Volt batteries
Villagers in Nana Kenieba hook up 12 V batteries for lighting.

Review summaries at World Bank, United Nations, World Health Organization, etc.


  1. TED videos can be inspiring
  2. Competitions (e.g., Dell Social Innovation Challenge) or Foundations (e.g., the Gates Foundation).
  3. Data sources: the CIA World Factbook, Global Issues, etc.


  1. Choose something inspiring that excites your team.
  2. Perform research.
  3. Select and target ONE region with a focused scope. Not the entire world, but a target customer.
  4. learn about the regions of your interest. Become familiar with their history, culture, geography, economy and find more specific resources
  5. Things won’t be perfect the first time, iteration is to be expected, and is a beneficial learning process.

Dos and Don’ts of Your Team’s Engineering Design Project:

Include moving parts Do not select a project that is “TOO easy” (such as a stove, grain storage, etc)
Design must involve experimentation via testing and learning
Design MUST fit in the provided totes(assembled OR disassembled) as a SCALED down functional prototype of a larger product Water treatment/filtration (DIFFICULT and expensive to test functionality, so not feasible in this course)
Practice Exercise


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Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design Copyright © 2023 by Jacqulyn A. Baughman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.