Babson & Olin College Students Make a Difference through Sustainable Innovation

Dec 11, 2012, 11:54 ET from Babson College

WELLESLEY, Mass., Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Can undergraduate college students learn how to make a difference in the world? Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE)*, a course developed by Babson and Olin colleges, is intended to enable that.

The Affordable Design & Entrepreneurship course applies business & engineering skills to help world's poorest populations solve key problems in healthcare, food systems, and other chronic struggles.

ADE combines the entrepreneurial know-how of Babson College business students with the engineering acumen of students at neighboring Olin College of Engineering. Teams from both schools and nearby Wellesley College then partner with communities in India, Ghana, Morocco, and here in the U.S. to develop sustainable businesses that solve important social and economic problems in those regions.

Students identify real problems, then evaluate and test possible solutions. This mixing of design and entrepreneurship skills allows them to see how combining technology and business models can impact a social venture's outcome.

*Students will present this semester's ADE projects this Wed., Dec. 12th at Olin College.

ADE Projects

  • Designing a new gear mechanism and business model to reduce the physical burden on rickshaw pullers in India.
  • Designing and testing a village-scale grater for processing cassava in Ghana. The new grater design offers income-generating opportunities while reducing the backbreaking labor for women processors.
  • Creating a go-to-market strategy for a bamboo bike venture to support economic development, job creation, and job-skills training in Alabama. HERObike™
  • Mapping social and entrepreneurial opportunities to allow the illiterate and innumerate to use mobile phones for communication, education, business, and empowerment in Morocco.

ADE grew out of a unique partnering agreement at Babson and Olin to build on existing initiatives and explore new academic, social, and business relationships together.

The program was founded by Benjamin Linder at Olin, associate professor of Design and Mechanical Engineering, and co-designed with Babson Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Erik Noyes, an expert in innovation management and growth strategy. Noyes and Linder co-direct the program.

The professors expect their students to acquire new skills in entrepreneurial thinking and quantitative analysis, but more importantly, Noyes and Linder expect their students to walk away with an expanded awareness of, and passion for, addressing the difficult realities faced by a majority of the world's population.

Says Noyes, "ADE is an international, experiential social entrepreneurship course that aims to build future social leaders with a strong entrepreneurial bent."

"Social entrepreneurship that combines technology and business innovation has a huge potential to increase well-being," said Linder, "In ADE, students work hand-in-hand with partners to explore, launch, and scale sustainable ventures."

About Babson College
Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The College is a dynamic living and learning laboratory, where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society -- while at the same time evolving our methods and advancing our programs. We shape the leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value. For information, visit

About Olin College of Engineering
Located in Needham, Mass., Olin College is an undergraduate engineering institution that has been exploring innovative approaches to engineering education since its founding in 1997. Olin is increasingly recognized as a leader in engineering education reform for its interdisciplinary, hands-on curriculum and distinctive learning culture. Visit

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