Engineering Design Considerations for a Developing World Agricultural Processor

Open Access
Lesnick, Leigh Alexandra
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Engineering Leadership Development and Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Richard J Schuhmann, Thesis Supervisor
  • Zoubeida Ounaies, Honors Advisor
  • Andras Gordon, Faculty Reader
  • engineering leadership development
  • developing world
  • baobab
  • engineering design
This thesis seeks to develop a culturally appropriate agricultural processor to be used for processing baobab fruit throughout developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Baobab is a nutritious fruit that, when properly processed, results in a dry, powdered substance that can be easily added to food or drink for seasoning and nutritional purposes. In regions of the world where food security is a significant concern, the development of an inexpensive, sustainable, and effective method for processing baobab fruit can greatly improve the lives of rural inhabitants. In addition, creating a standardized method for processing baobab can allow the fruit to be internationally exported, adding value to local economies. Currently, there are only three existing methods of processing baobab, and these techniques span a wide range of economic, technological, and educational requirements. By comparing the current methods to one another and using principles of empathic design, a set of criteria necessary for developing world agricultural processor was determined. Using these criteria, a sustainable, inexpensive, and culturally-appropriate prototype was designed. Fabrication and testing of this agricultural processor prototype provides proof of its effectiveness at processing baobab relatively quickly and without overexertion of the user. The success of this design indicates that a more effective and less arduous solution for processing baobab can be made available to rural inhabitants of Sub-Saharan Africa. Additional testing and design requirements could greatly improve the capability of this prototype, and further work could allow for the design and fabrication instructions to be available to rural Africans via open source technology.