Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Room for Innovation

Today, I had an opportunity to sit in on a design class at MIT, with a focus on innovation in humanitarian removal of land mines. The class featured a presentation by two representatives from the United Nation's Mine Action program. Students in the class had an opportunity to present innovations in the field.

Prior to the class, I had not given a lot of thought to land mine removal technologies. It is an incredibly intricate process that involves a diversity of equipment. The initial focus in land mine removal is on reducing areas suspected of having land mines as quickly as possible, not necessarily on removing as many land mines as possible.

Since many minefields are located in particularly fertile areas, minefields represent not only a clear danger, but also an obstacle to development. Granted, I am a complete novice to the field and technologies, but it seems as though there is a room for a lot of innovation. There are still humans and dogs that are used to detect mines (or at least do quality control on areas sweeped by robots and other devices) (!).


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