November 20, 2017

So far, November is the month of prototyping and organization. With 23 students on our team, organization originally presented itself as an incredibly daunting task. Modeling ourselves after our FIRST Robotics team, we have divided students into four smaller “functional groups.” Each functional group contains a few students working on one specific aspect on our project.
Our first and largest functional group is the briquette group. This group of students focuses on testing and perfecting the briquettes. So far, this month, we have successfully made two briquettes using the first prototype for our press (lovingly named Bubba 1). Later on, once we have a stove built, we will attempt to burn them in order to test for how long they can be used. We also have decided to see if cassava flour would be more effective than cassava roots.
The press functional group has spent most of November testing out their first prototype for the press-mechanism. Since we needed a press right away, we have a separate press made from instructions found online that we will be using until we have our own design. Throughout the rest of November and the beginning of December, we plan to modify this design to better suite our needs, and to be more “Zambia friendly”.
The chopper group’s focus has been on creating a mechanism that can safely chop the briquette materials into smaller particles to be used in the briquettes. Like with the press group, we needed a fully functioning chopper as soon as possible, so they found a design online and have been building it ever since. While we wait for that to be finished, the briquette group has been using a blender, which is working surprisingly well.
Lastly, the smallest group is our community outreach/project management functional group. This group’s primary focus is managing social media, finances, blog posts, team organization, and documentation. So far this month, we have been keeping the other functional groups on task with documentation using a program called Trello. It’s essentially an online task management system. A lot of our time is spent following up with students following order forms, tracking receipts, turning in consent forms, taking pictures, etc… This group’s work is hard to explain, but they definitely do the most tedious and frustrating tasks.