Prelude to India

Trip Start Sep 28, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
My friend Signe's House

Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For those who are reading this and don't know me, I’d like to give you a rundown of my life leading up to this year living in India. For the past seven years, I’ve been a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. During that time, I got involved in many international development technology projects, the majority of which focused on wheelchair technologies. The biggest has been the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), a wheelchair designed specifically to meet the mobility needs of wheelchair users in developing countries. If you would like to read more about my academic and professional background, and about the details of the LFC, please visit my website at

A year ago, I decided that I wanted to devote a substantial amount of time to bring the LFC to fruition, transferring it from prototype to product and hopefully starting manufacturing in the developing world. Additionally, I viewed this time abroad as an opportunity to prepare for a career as a professor, with a significant research focus on international development technologies. An extended time abroad would enable me to package the LFC into a complete, stand-alone body of work that demonstrates the research, as well as social, value of international development technologies. Furthermore, living abroad would provide an opportunity to investigate other development-focused projects that I could pursue during my academic career.

India was a logical choice for the location of the project. It is like a snapshot of the developing world contained within one boarder, with an enormous diversity of culture, socioeconomic classes, and terrain. India is the perfect test bed for the LFC, as well as a grassroots laboratory in which to gain an appreciation for other challenges facing the developing world, in order to shape my vision for a career in development technology. I will spend the next eight months partnering with Jaipur Foot, the biggest disability group in the world in terms of assistive device provision, and India Institute of Technology Delhi, to test the LFC throughout India and quantify its performance advantages over existing mobility technologies.

So that brings us to the beginning of this adventure in India. I have just moved to Delhi, and my head is still reeling from all the changes in my life over the past few months. Two months ago I was living in Antigua, Guatemala, working with a team of MIT students and Transitions Foundation to refine the new LFC design that will be tested in Guatemala and India this year. A month ago I was wrapping up my PhD, living in Cambridge, MA. And now I am in Delhi, a new city in a new country, filled with a combination of excitement and trepidation about the year ahead. But I feel that I am in a good place surrounded by good, capable people, and that my time in India will be an adventure. 
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Dharmender Jaitly on

Nice compilation!!!!

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