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Proximity Designs: Cultivating Dignity

Radio Free Asia profiles how non-profit company Proximity Designs creates highly affordable, 3D printed parts for irrigation systems that are sorely lacking for farmers in rural Myanmar. Their process relies heavily on rapid prototyping which is not only useful for creating the most effective designs but also for cutting cost by removing the need for multiple, lengthy conversations with third parties. These small, inexpensive parts are making a huge impact, reducing time and materials costs for individuals in the agriculture industry, allowing their resources to be used in improving other areas of their lives.

Assignment Idea: “Day-to-Day Design”


Human-centered design is a process of thinking and approaching a complex problem in order to solve it. This framework considers the human perspectives throughout the design process. Reflect on the power of the results from Proximity Designs. Through the use of rapid prototyping and human-centered design a team of individuals designed products and services that have had a powerful impact on the Myanmar’s economy and people.

Think about other areas beside farming and agriculture. What may be a human-centered area that sparks your interest? What problem(s) need to be solved? Can it be supported through rapid prototyping? How would you go about solving it? What resources would you need to be able to help solve it? What impact would you hope it would produce?



Subject Areas

Agriculture, Business, Communications


  • develop a 2D sketch of your prototype
  • design and develop a 3D model of your prototype
  • design a blog post highlighting the problem/need, design and possible result
  • create a video presentation, refining and expanding the blog post (optional)