Bike-powered Blenders Workshop: Davis Bike Collective and UC Davis D-Lab Collaborative Project

In November, UC Davis D-Lab team, Davis Bike Collective, professor Jason Moore and more bike aficionados in Davis organized the first two-day Workshop: How to Build a Bike-powered Blender. This collaborative effort had the goal to guide people willing to learn about bike-powered technologies how to make their own smoothies when electricity is gone. During this hands-on event, students and members of the Davis Bike Collective followed a step-by-step process that can be summarized in disassembling, assembling, cutting, and finally welding all the different bike parts to create a low-cost bike-powered blender. Carlos Marroquin, founder of Bici-tec, was our leader, providing his input and guidance as a bike-builder with more than twenty years in the business. Carlos Marroquin is also part of the IDIN Network, one of our key partner that brings to UC Davis D-Lab projects related to agriculture, environment and energy from all over the world.

Davis Bike Collective donated the bikes (if you want to tune-up your bike and learn about bikes this is definitely the right place). Professors Kurt Kornbluth and Jason Moore supported this initiative with their experience building bike-powered technologies. We want to thank everyone who joined this workshop and invite UC Davis students to learn about future events at UC Davis D-Lab and Davis Bike Collective.

A view of the capital city, Tbilisi, before sunset.

“The Next Steps for the Georgia Regional Innovation Outreach Initiative”

November 18, 2016

Leanne Bolano

With fall quarter at UC Davis in full swing, this Blum Fellowship to the Republic of Georgia already seems far away. It is a strange feeling I think, because I distinctly remember that when I first arrived in Tbilisi, I thought a month was going to feel so long, and that I would have a lot of time in Georgia to fully absorb the country. But time passed so rapidly, especially when the training was ending and we were meeting with so many different organizations each day. And now, it has only been a couple of months since I left my friends and students in Georgia, and yet I feel like the trip was long ago.

It is an interesting experience, being in a completely new place for four weeks and overwhelmingly receiving information about the political and historical context, the social nuisances, the personal stories, the traditions and recipes, all while working so intimately with a small community like Bediani. It felt like I was constantly in front of a fire hydrant—everyone in the village wanted to tell me their narratives, teach me about the history of the different regions and towns, take me to visit different churches, feed me different traditional dishes, all at once.

A typical dinner in Bediani after a long day of work!

A typical dinner in Bediani after a long day of work!

This Blum trip was so critical in the development of this project. Though it was a short scoping mission, it allowed for the establishment of many valuable partnerships, the identification of different challenges pressuring economic and educational change, and the development of action items for the UC Davis D-Lab to take moving forward. This short and sweet experience allowed for the opening of many doors, both for UC Davis and Georgian institutions. Among some of the many ideas for next steps are: setting up a student, faculty, and curriculum exchange with Georgian universities, facilitating similar short, intensive, “D-Lab Satellites” trainings in different villages, and outlining an updated budget and timeline for the Community Supported Agriculture cooperative in Bareti.

Project client Kakhaber Bakhtadze and friends on the 75 acre Bareti land plot.

Project client Kakhaber Bakhtadze and friends on the 75 acre Bareti land plot.

I have learned the importance of international partnerships, and how they are mutually beneficial in different ways. Fostering healthy and frequent relationships between different global organizations is essential for international relations and development to thrive. It was a privilege to witness firsthand the reaping of investing into projects that serve as catalysts for future change. And it was also a privilege to see and appreciate the many team players and their contributions for this project to succeed. These include but are not limited to the Blum Center, the UC Davis D-Lab, the Humphrey Fellows Program, Global Affairs, the Bediani Regional Education Center, Academics Without Borders, and more! I hope I can continue to provide sustainable solutions to the different trials that underserved communities face, as I know how meaningful and rewarding this work is.

The UC Davis D-Lab Team (Dr. Kurt Kornbluth, Paula Balbontin, Leanne Bolano), BREC Founder and Humphrey Fellow 2016 Kakhaber Bakhtadze, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Georgia, David Galegashvili.

The UC Davis D-Lab Team (Dr. Kurt Kornbluth, Paula Balbontin, Leanne Bolano), BREC Founder and Humphrey Fellow 2016 Kakhaber Bakhtadze, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Georgia, David Galegashvili.


UC Davis Humphrey Fellows Exploration Modules

Since 2015, the UC Davis D-Lab has been a gateway for Humphrey Fellows to work and connect with a vibrant ecosystem of faculty and students, and practitioners, as well as the resources to move projects forward. In October 2016, the new group of UC Davis Humphrey Fellows started moving their projects forward under the UC Davis D-Lab Exploration Modules.

The first module was held on Friday, October 14th and during this opportunity, fellows explored the needs and resources of their target communities to think of creative solutions. Activities such as the Wallet Exercise or the Brainstorming session to expand their ideas, fellows identified the considerations to be used later for their projects’ evaluation. Next Friday, November, 14th at 10 am, Humphrey Fellows are having their second Exploratory Module to keep working in their projects and choose the best ideas to develop in collaboration with UC Davis.

In 2015, Dennis Yiga, a UC Davis Humphrey Fellow, met IAD student Abraham Salomon in D-Lab and the two went on to found Agriworks Uganda, Ltd. Their Mobile Irrigation System (first designed in D-Lab) is currently being scaled up in Uganda under a $150,000 USAID grant. In 2016, three Humphrey Fellows: Kakhaber Bakhtadze (Republic of Georgia), Fenoarifara Randriambololona (Madagascar) and Muhammad Ahmad (Pakistan) developed their own projects under a D-Lab course, and three UC Davis students were awarded with Blum grants to travel and support the fellow’s in country over the summer.

Job offer


Zero Net Energy Initiative GSR and Student Assistant position for Spring and Summer 2015



The UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies (PIET) seeks one graduate student (GSR) and one undergraduate (student assistant) to work on its Zero Net Energy Initiative doing hands-on research focusing on the design, construction, operation and analysis of very low-energy buildings and micro-grids.

The successful candidate will work close to campus Energy Conservation Office, the Energy Efficiency Center, the Plug-in Hybrid Center, and the Western Cooling Energy Center, performing research on specific ZNE research topics and coordinating them with the Path to Zero Net Energy course. This is an excellent opportunity to be involved in the only existing university course focusing on ZNE and to conduct research on micro-grids, topics of interest to academics, engineers and policy-makers around the globe.

Following a hands-on philosophy (research, design, build, and test), PIET collaborates with local institutions, such as the UC Davis Facilities Management, in national competitions, such as the Solar Decathlon, and internationally with the Danish Technical University.  PIET is located in UC Davis’ West Village campus, the largest net zero energy community in the US.

The successful candidate for the ZNE position will:

  • Conduct research and write reports on the latest technological advances related to the construction of net zero energy buildings on the building and community scales in the energy efficiency and power generation fields
  • Establish communication with UC Davis Facilities Management to propose and set-up exciting student projects
  • Help develop the course curriculum, including setting up labs, contact experts for guest lectures, select readings and prepare class powerpoints
  • Manage and mentor student teams.

Required Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of heat transfer, renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart grids.
  • Engineering background + practical experience in the field
  • Excellent writing and communications skills
  • Excellent organizational and leadership skills


Desired Qualifications:

  • Self-motivated and “all-rounder”
  • Some knowledge of building codes, as well as of California environmental policy and goals for new commercial and residential buildings.
  • Experience in data analysis and energy systems modelling
  • Hands-on skills and tool use experience


Qualified applicants please send a brief cover letter and resume to Magdalena Brum

For full consideration applications should be submitted by February 13, 2015.