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Frugal Innovation Hub

Labs and Projects

To help the helpers of the world, the Frugal Innovation Hub utilizes 5 specialized labs, each representing a specific vertical.

Each lab consists of a lab coordinator or a faculty advisor and students eager to have a real world client. The program also supports projects in peripheral verticals that have a high social impact for humanitarian organizations, such as solar energy and web design.

Meet the lab coordinators in the School of Engineering who make it all happen, and learn more about the labs they lead:


Humanitarian Award Winners

Humanitarian Award Winners

This award is given by the Frugal Innovation Hub to Senior Design projects with the most social impact.

Students: Nina Morrison, Samantha O’Connor, and Callie Weber

Advisors: Unyoung (Ashley) Kim and Michele Parker

This team designed a low-cost paper-based sensor to detect the presence of E. coli in human breast milk donated to breast milk banks. Their aim is to ensure post-pasteurization safety in developing countries, where traditional lab culturing methods are unavailable.

Students: Jacob Leatherberry and Nicolas Metails

Advisor: Dr. Timothy Healy and James Reites

97% of the 1.3 billion people who still do not have access to electricity live in Sub-Saharan Africa. To help solve this problem, our team designed and installed a solar microgrid for 133 people living in Alafiarou, Benin, so that they may see in the dark and charge their phones.

Students: Greg O'Neill and Jonathan Tadros

Advisors: Dr. Mark Aschheim and Dr. Tonya Nilsson

This project researched Arundo donax - a type of giant, perennial cane plant - to examine its use as a viable structural building material.  Used alongside other traditional building methods, this material may offer new technologies for housing in developing countries.

Students: John Miller, Tara Pozzi, and Caroline Ruwe

Advisor: Dr. Steven Chiesa

This project includes the design of a gravity-fed water delivery and distribution system for a 12-acre farm.  The farm will be used by the Homeless Garden Project, a nonprofit organization geared toward helping the homeless in Santa Cruz, California.