Alumni engineering solutions for developing world

Krista Donaldson, BE’95

For CEO and Vanderbilt mechanical engineering graduate Krista Donaldson, BE’95, revolutionary engineering is about changing the world, one life at a time.

Her San Francisco engineering and design firm is dedicated to solving problems around the world, not for millions of dollars, but hundreds. Fulfilling that goal takes both dedication and innovation, hence the name D-Rev, short for design revolution.

San Francisco’s ABC affiliate KGO-TV aired a report on the D-Rev team, which operates as a nonprofit and has brought its products to India, Africa, Asia and Central America. The organization’s declared mission is to improve the health of people who survive on less than four dollars a day.

“I think it’s creative problem solving at the end of the day, and to me that’s what design is,” Donaldson told KGO. “If you have an environment where you can dig in and you’re able to prototype, you can pull things apart, that enables that creative problem solving process.”

Engineers work on solutions like the Re-motion Jaipur knee, originally conceived by students at Stanford University. It’s an artificial joint that’s stable, durable and made out of plastic.

Garrett Spiegel, BE’10

Simple, affordable and durable are engineering principals here. Garrett Spiegel, D-Rev product manager and former Vanderbilt biomedical engineering student, BE’10, began his career while in college repairing and installing second-hand, donated medical devices in hospitals and clinics in Central America and the Caribbean. He’s put some of that expertise into a light therapy lamp, used to treat babies with jaundice.

“For instance we don’t have a cooling fan in this device, so it doesn’t require replaceable air filters. The fan can’t break which is one of the common components that does,” he explained to KGO.

The price — about 22,000 — Indian rupees.

“Which is the equivalent of about $400,” said Spiegel.

D-Rev and its partners have many other products in development including a solar concentrator– a device powerful enough to charge batteries and small electrical devices in areas without reliable electricity.

Watch the KGO (San Francisco) report here.