Studying Water Use in India


I’m Nupur Dokras (LGO ’17), and I recently travelled to India as part of MIT’s D-Lab course, where I worked with in a team of MIT students to study water filtration in Uttarahand. Read my full blog post here.

The purpose of the project was to gather market data for a current MIT research project under Rohit Karnik, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Amy Smith,
Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Founding
Director of D-Lab. We wanted to understand what rural people in India
need and prefer to better develop a low-cost water filter.
We started
our project in Dehradun where we met with local partner organization
People’s Science Institute (PSI). Over a period of three weeks in India,
we travelled to Almora, Kapkot, and Bageshwar, three towns at the base
of the Himalayas, to conduct research. We worked with local university
students as interpreters. We hiked up and down the hills and approached
villagers to conduct interviews. After completing nearly 100 interviews
and a few design workshops, I was able to use what I learned in classes
such as Global Engineering and New Enterprises to develop a set of market findings.

interviews gave me an inside perspective on villagers and their way of
life. Some people had to walk for over an hour to gather their water
several times a day. For many, providing food for the family takes
precedence over water quality. Filters and maintenance parts were
difficult to find in local markets because the villages are so remote.

trip reinforced my studies here at MIT, but it also absolutely changed
my outlook on life. Not only did I learn about water filtration and
water use, but so much more about a simpler way of life. I saw students
walking for an hour each way to attend school. I laughed with a child as
he ecstatically ran across the field when we fixed his broken plastic
flip flop with duct tape. I tried on a crop basket and felt the enormous
weight of the mustard plants against my back as I climbed the hills.
Families greeted me with a cup of chai even though they had only enough
electricity to power three LEDs for the entire house. I watched ladies
lug gas tanks for cooking from the base of a hill to their kitchens.


I have visited Mumbai and Delhi for family trips before, so I did not
expect to be affected by culture shock. However, rural India was a
different experience. I realized just how much of an adventure we were
on when we had to go to ten different stores to find bottled water and
had to drive for another hour to find toilet paper and gasoline! The
food, though incredibly spicy, was so fresh and some of the best Indian
food I have ever had. When handed an orange in a village, I was promptly
given salt and spices to smear on the peeled orange. The mix of tangy
and spicy flavors was unforgettable!

This experience gave me a new appreciation for India’s beauty and a simple life. Additionally, I have a new perspective on how to view day-to-day challenges. They pale in comparison to other larger issues in the world. I know I wouldn’t have been able to learn many of these life lessons solely from the classroom. I am incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity and will never forget the relationships I made, experiences I had, and lessons I learned.


Read my full blog post here!

What I Learned [Before] My Summer Vacation

I began thinking about writing a blog post on my drive from Boston to Seattle for my internship at Boeing a few weeks ago. All I could think about what how crazy the last few years have been. A year and a half ago, my girlfriend and I lived in Atlanta. She was teaching pre-school and I worked for GE. Now, we’re married and Abby will be joining me in Seattle for the summer. First of all, I want to digress and comment on planning a wedding during LGO. There was one LGO that got married the first week of summer classes and there were two LGO 17s that moved to Boston, planned a wedding, and got married right after our first year. It wasn’t easy, but we found time to plan our weddings, get involved with committees and clubs, and make great friends during our first year.

During my drive, I had over 50 hours and 3500 miles of driving to reflect on the last year. From not being engaged and working at GE to being married and driving to my internship in Seattle, my life is completely different. I can’t say that it’s all been stress-free, but I have learned a lot during the last year. This might be a little cheesy, but here a few of the memorable lessons that I learned during my first year of LGO.

  • Many LGO 17s would agree that the best piece of advice we heard during our first year came during a leadership and ethics seminar. Our speaker said that many of her LGO classmates lived outside of their means and ended up trapped in jobs/lives that they didn’t want. Her advice was to live within your means so that you can quit your job at any moment and transition to something that you truly love. I know that we’ve all heard this advice before, but it was refreshing to hear it from a successful LGO alum.
  • Find a work/life balance – school and work are important, but so are staying healthy, meeting new people, and trying new things. I still struggle with this, but these are important things that will allow me to get the most of of LGO and life.
  • It’s OK to say “I don’t know. Can you help me?” This happened very early on during LGO when I struggled with a few classes. I knew that LGO would be hard, but I didn’t expect to be completely lost during the summer. Luckily I learned to ask for help and my classmates and teachers were more than willing to take time to help me. I am continually shocked at the kindness and willingness to help that my classmates have shown each other throughout our first year.
  • You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating. I realized early on at LGO that I like to think things through slowly and methodically. I also realized that it takes me more time than some of my classmates to recall certain things that we’ve learned. I realized during a leadership class over the summer that taking time to think about something can be extremely beneficial. We are always trying to multitask, especially at LGO, but I rarely found creative solutions or solved problems while multitasking. I believe that there is a time and a place for multitasking, but disconnecting and concentrating on the problem at hand can produce great results.
  • Getting angry can make you temporarily dumb. This came up in a negotiations class that I took in the Spring. Our professor explained that getting angry temporarily changes your brain for up to 17 minutes so that you are actually temporarily dumb. I used to get really frustrated at work and learning about this side effect of anger/frustration/impatience made me seriously consider if allowing myself to get angry was impacting my work more than I realized.

Overall, the most important lessons that I learned from my first year at LGO were not technical. While I loved learning about supply chains, manufacturing, finance, etc., and I’m sure they will help me in my internship and post-LGO career, I was really shocked by all of the meaningful, non-technical things that I learned. These most certainly differ from all of my classmates’ lessons learned, but that’s the beauty of MIT Sloan and LGO. Everybody gets exactly what they need out of them.

Nick Arch, LGO ‘17

MIT Sloan MBA & SM in Mechanical Engineering

From Boston to Seattle, there are a few sights along the way.


Ana Ortiz Garcia (’16) organized a trip to her home country of Guatemala over SIP and Spring Break. Ana’s classmates Tamara Belkina, David Semko, and Clararose Voigt as well as Clara’s husband, John Schott joined her for the two-week excursion. The group affectionately referred to the trip (which had a decidedly LGO flavor) as GuaTrek or simply GPT, a nod to the LGO traditions of Domestic Plant Trek (DPT) and International Plant Trek (IPT).

Tamara, David, and Clara listen intently as Alejandro from Grupo OEG describes how Kingo (@Kingoenergy) is #TurningLivesON through distribution of affordable, pre-paid, solar energy solutions in rural areas of Guatemala.

Tamara, Ana, John, Clara, and David take time to pose for a picture atop one of the 16 wind turbines at Parque Eólico San Antonio El Sitio.

Ana, Tamara, and Clara look on as Gladys shows David the bracelets she manufactured.

John, Tamara, and Clara listen as Taylor from Antigua Cerveza explains the inner workings of the bottling equipment at the start-up brewery.

Tamara, John, and David pose with Timoteo, a coffee farmer and co-founder of the De La Gente coffee co-op in San Miguel Escobar.

Clara, Tamara, and Ana show off their newly purchased jade earrings after a stop at the Casa Del Jade museum in Antigua.

Ana and Clara pause to take a photo while admiring the grandeur of the Gran Jaguar Temple at Tikal.

Clara, Tamara, Ana, and David pause at the top of Tikal’s Temple IV, the second highest temple in the Mayan World.

LGO in India

Saila Parthasarathy is taking her Global Engineering project on the road to India. Along with her team, she partnered with LV Prasad Eye Institute to create a prototype for a wearable magnification device for children with low vision. A few members of her team flew to India over Sloan Innovation Period/Spring Break to present their idea to the company.


Below Saila’s prototype can be seen for the wearable device.


Saila met with the founder, Dr. G.N. Rao. Dr. Prem Nandhini and teammates Anastasia and Boris are also photographed below.


Global Engineering is taught by Prof. Amos Winter. The class focusses on combining “rigorous engineering theory and user-centered product design” for developing and emerging markets.