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Introduction to the Frugal Innovation Lab

Welcome to the FrugalBlog, Connor O’Brien’s tri-weekly compendium on frugal innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and social justice. Send comments, criticism or ideas

Hello, and welcome again to the FrugalBlog! Today we are introducing the Frugal Innovation Lab team and giving you a little more insight into what it is we are actually doing here at the Frugal Innovation Lab.
So, without further ado…
The Frugal Innovation Lab Team
Connor O’Brien Social Media Specialist
Connor O’Brien is a second-year Graduate Student at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Originally from Colorado, Connor came to the Bay Area to pursue his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. Connor then moved to Washington, DC where he worked in the United States Senate on education and technology policy. Shortly thereafter, Connor began working as a software consultant. Connor’s main interests lie in the intersection of education, technology and policy.
Elizabeth Sweeney Program Manager, Frugal Innovation Lab
Elizabeth Sweeny is a Bay Area native, and a recent Santa Clara University graduate. Elizabeth majored in business management, with a minor in political science that emphasized Middle Eastern foreign policy.  As both a student and a professional, Elizabeth's passions have led her to focus on sustainability and social improvement causes.  Working with Silicon Valley environmental non-profits, a green technology mechanical engineering start-up firm, and volunteering with pediatric hospital patients have all strengthened her intense desire to delve into broad projects that yield significant social benefit. Read the full profile 
Rhada Basu  Dean's Executive Professor, School of Engineering
Radha Basu has over 30 years experience in executive management. She is widely recognized as a leading woman entrepreneur in technology companies and as a pioneer in the Indian software business. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Communications from the University of Madras, a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Management program. Read the full profile
Data is Beautiful, but Reality is Not:We Can’t Grow Enough Food to Feed the World
About the Frugal Innovation Lab
The Frugal Innovation Lab is sponsored by the Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering (SoE) and directed by Radha R. Basu. Basu incubated the idea of the Frugal Innovation Lab as a way to marry instruction, innovation and immersion experiences with appropriate, adaptable, affordable, and accessible technologies, products and solutions developed by our students to address human needs in emerging markets.

Frugal innovation is a process of problem solving that focuses on ruggedization, simplification, sparing use of low-cost raw materials, an emphasis on earth-friendly practices and a philosophy that favors "doing more with less" in creating compassionate, user-centric design.


The Frugal Innovation Lab focuses on creating products and solutions in three main need areas: clean water, global public health and renewable energy. With the vibrancy of emerging-market growth, the School of Engineering's Frugal Innovation Lab meets this new paradigm head-on by offering undergraduate and graduate gourses, hosting hosting student and faculty research projects, and partnering with field-based social entrepreneurs in emerging markets.  
Impactful work is being done in simple yet powerful ways. Projects range from designs and prototypes to implemented and utilized products and services. Students learn within the lab as well as interact with field-based social entrepreneurs and global partners to solve real-world problems.
Music recommendations interlude: Andrew Belle, “The Ladder,” 2010.
What We’ve Done:
Since the Frugal Innovation Lab’s inception in April 2012, our students (with some help from faculty, of course) have conceived, designed and implemented 20 different products and solutions ranging from affordable Arsenic detectors to creating a sustainable educational support structure around local solar panels in Uganda to creating a free-to-use Fair-Trade Calculator.
For a complete list of what we’ve accomplished so far, please visit our project gallery. And, if you have any additional questions, inquiries or thoughts on what we’ve created please do not hesitate to contact us.
A physicist, a mathematician and an engineer walking into a bar...What’s the most intellectual joke you know?
Where We Are Going:
Elizabeth and Rhada have been working overtime to line up a new set of projects, cooperative partnerships and concepts to pursue for this coming school year. While it is a little too early to give all the details, we are planning on making an announcement in the next month regarding a corporate partnership we are very excited about.
Since it is the Summer time, we are in a bit of a lull, but we are hard at work lining things up for this coming school year, so please continue to check back here for updates on classes, projects, events, speakers and more.
Thanks for reading,

The Frugal Lab Team 

Frugal Innovation Lab |  Bannan Labs Building 404
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
1-408-554-2334 |