Header image at RIMMEA Workshop



For the more than 4 billion people—the majority of the world’s population—living on less than $4 a day in resource-poor regions, the need to create extremely affordable and sustainable shelter and infrastructure is a matter of survival. And yet current design and engineering research has failed to adequately address this global challenge—until now.

On March 18-19, 2011 an unprecedented National Science Foundation (NSF) workshop took place on “Research in Materials and Manufacturing for Extreme Affordability” on the Ball State University campus in Muncie, Indiana, brought together an international group of researchers to explore opportunities for commercially viable housing and product development in the most impoverished regions on earth.

This special event was a partnership between Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Over two days, about 30 noted architects, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, management scholars, manufacturers, scientists, and technology experts have identifed key questions and issues for research in materials and manufacturing for extreme affordability. The diverse participants represent institutions such as Ball State, Brown University, Columbia University, Indian Institute of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Penn State, Purdue University, University of Michigan, and University of Colorado.

The workshop has examined how advanced technology and market-based solutions can address  lingering problems in developing areas at the “base of the pyramid,” including inadequate housing, lack of electricity, scarcity of clean water, and limited access to education and health care. Social entrepreneurship can blend scalable innovations with culturally rooted products and locally relevant materials, meeting both human and economic needs.

As workshop co-chair, I invite you to watch the recordings of the webcast<http://rimmea.i-m-a-d-e.org/>. Please visit rimmea.i-m-a-d-e.org<http://rimmea.i-m-a-d-e.org/> for a schedule of activities, a list of participants, and other details about the workshop.


Mahesh Daas (Senagala)
Chair, Professor, and Emerging Media Fellow
Department of Architecture
Ball State University

P.S.: I also encourage you to learn about our college’s own applied research and educational emphases in digital fabrication and social justice, both ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, at www.bsu.edu/cap<http://www.bsu.edu/cap>.

Workshop Organizing Team:

Exhibits Creation and Coordination Team:

  • John Fillwalk, Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts, Ball State University
  • Joshua Vermillion, Institute for Digital Fabrication, Ball State University