UGC’s Global Impact
For the past decade, MIT underclassmen have come together to fund grants to enable MIT students to address challenges of poverty in communities around the globe.

Check back here for reports from our UGC grant recipients!
67 Projects Funded Since 2006
Latest News from the Field
Photo from Julia Heyman's project
A community member cooking on her Makaa stove just after the team installed a sensor on it.
Julia Heyman ’16
Household Air Pollution Monitoring with Sensor Networks
This summer, Julia Heyman ’16 travelled with D-Lab staff to measure and analyze the usage and adoption of the Makaa cookstove (high efficiency/low emission cookstove), and to study the application of low-cost sensors in this work. The Stove Use Monitoring Systems (SUMS) have been installed in 30 households for the past year, and the recent phase of the project focused on collecting and updating the sensors to be reinstalled. They downloaded data stored on the sensors, to provide insights into how often the stoves are being used in the households. They updated the sensors’ insulation to decrease the amount of heat transfer that occurs between the stove and the SUMS. For the particulate matter sensors, they tested a proof of concept design as well as the life and durability of them. With both of these sensors, the D-Lab project team hopes to continue working on how to scale up and continue iterating to improve the design for future applications.
Photo from Samir Wadhwania's project
Samir Wadhwania and Geovany Moreno talking with the women of El Sauce about to describe how to connect the pipes that would provide them with water for laundry.
Samir Wadhwania ’18
Solar-powered Water Distribution Systems for Isolated Villages
El Sauce and Guayabo, El Salvador
Samir Wadhwania ’18 trip to El Salvador featured many surprises. Initially, he and his D-Lab partner Alan Diaz-Romero ’17, believed their project was much “simpler” than they originally expected. Instead of the solar powered pump, they needed to install a roof on the spring-fed reservoir from which they were drawing water, build a cistern on the other side of the community to store the water they were drawing, and lay down the PVC pipes needed to carry the water. With this work done, further complications about the water and its uses were encountered from members of the benefitting communities (El Sauce and Guayabo). A compromise was eventually met and Samir and Alan designed a new well adjacent to the reservoir with a direct connection to the reservoir water. The men of Guayabo could seal the reservoir to keep the water clean, while the women could still access water to clean their clothes. There is still necessary work to be done, however substantial progress was made to create accessible water in these isolated communities.
Photo from Rin Yunis' project
Students interviewing community members in Koh Yao Yai to learn more about their daily challenges.
Rin Yunis ’16
Designing and Implementing Workshops for FabLab
Koh Yao Yai and
Ban Sam Ka, Thailand
Rin Yunis ’16 travelled with her partner from Wellesley College to Thailand, where they worked with local students in design thinking and constructionism workshops to increase their environmental awareness and community involvement. After the summer workshops, students showed off prototypes they created as teams based on challenges they identified as negatively affecting their surrounding natural environments. Rin shared: “We came away from this experience beyond grateful for the support we received to make this once-dream a reality. We found new approaches to teach/participate in design, and nurtured our inner teachers.”