D-Lab I: Energy, Agriculture and Development

Winter Quarter 2017

ABT 289A-001 D-Lab I: Energy, Agriculture and Development

CRN: Contact Sean Maxson (smmaxson@ucdavis.edu)
Units: 3 (4 with consultation with Instructor)
Instructor: Dr. Kurt Kornbluth
Meeting Times: Tuesday/Thursday, 10:00-11:50am
Location: UC Davis West Village, 1605 Tilia St.
 CRN 10699

Prerequisite: Graduate Students and Upper Division Undergraduates with Instructor’s Approval

Office Hours will be TBA in D-lab, 1605 Tilia, West Village.

Course Description



This course is designed to engage students in energy, agriculture, health, and environmental issues specific to developing countries. The course will focus on strategies to disseminate new technologies and provide hands-on practical experience in designing and implementing sustainable energy and health solutions. Students will apply basic engineering, social science, and economics to evaluate a prospective project/venture. Dissemination strategies and practical hands-on experience are provided through guest lectures, lab modules, and case studies.

Cross-disciplinary student teams work with international community partners to perform feasibility studies using technical, social, environmental, and financial lenses. The community partner is the client and guides the D-Lab team in all phases. Multi-disciplinary teams will communicate directly with client to perform feasibility studies for proposed energy or health solutions.

Areas of focus include water pumping and irrigation, post harvest, small-scale renewable energy and human and environmental health. Teams present their findings with regard to scale, context, stakeholder analysis, and possible alternatives.

D-Lab I is the first of a 2-part series focusing on energy health, and environmental issues in developing countries, based on the MIT D-lab series.

Current and past D-Lab projects can be seen at: http://piet1.ucdavis.edu/projects

Course Website: We use the course’s Smartsite to post all course information, including reading, assignments, and powerpoints. Look under resources. We have posted a course syllabus (an Excel document) on the Smartsite, which contains all assignments and will be updated from time to time so please treat it as a living document.

All assignments will be turned in as hard copies during the class period in which they are due. Final reports require a hard copy plus an electronic copy. Late work will not be accepted without prior arrangements.



Attendance and punctuality are mandatory (you are only allowed 1 unexcused absence). Furthermore, since your work in this class has the potential to impact the lives of people around the world, we expect an appropriate level of commitment.

Lab write-ups

To receive full credit, labs are to be written up and turned in (hard copy) 1 week after the lab.

  • Class participation, attendance: 20%
  • Sector Paper: 20%
  • Labs: 20%
  • Group Presentations: 20%
  • Final Report: 20%

Laptops and Smartphones

There will be no use of phones or laptops in class without prior approval from the instructor.