Public Lab Research note


Public Lab nonprofit internship posting: Environmental Kit Prototyping Intern

by Delaney |

Public Lab, Environmental Kit Prototyping Intern

Project location: Providence, Rhode Island

Proposed start/end date: June 4 - August 12, 2018

About Public Lab

Public Lab is a community and non-profit democratizing science to address environmental issues. We aim to open research to the public and build a collaborative community of people designing data collection tools and local research projects. Our goal is to increase the ability of communities to identify, redress, remediate, and create awareness and accountability around environmental concerns. Public Lab achieves this by providing online and in-person training, education and support, and by focusing on locally-relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding.

Project Description

Public Lab provides a platform for communities to access tools and resources for environmental monitoring, and the Public Lab's Kits Initiative works to support the development of accessible, open-source hardware that can be used to conduct this research -- by producing and distributing kits to jump-start collaboration and environmental problem-solving.

We're looking for a student with expertise in industrial design who can help to refine, simplify, and document a Do-It-Yourself kit for sensor data collection and data sharing along the lines of kits currently available at https://store.publiclab.org and inspired by the kinds of projects at https://publiclab.org/methods - with an emphasis on the enclosure design, assembly documentation and support materials. Users of these tools are primarily people who are impacted by the effects of pollution in their environments, and the data collected may be used to understand and communicate about these issues so that meaningful management, remediation or advocacy can take place.

Specifically, we're looking for someone to take on the project of creating a tightly integrated, easy to use end-to-end system that will help newcomers a) cheaply and quickly begin using the contents of the environmental tool kit (in this case, a datalogger and accompanying sensors), b) easily set up outdoors in a weather resistant housing, and c) collect and upload the data on the web. We hope to focus this project on an enclosure that will work with a water turbidity sensor, but we may explore other applications as well.

The Student Expert will design, produce and refine designs for a 3D printing, and create assembly documentation and support materials for use by others. They will consider ease of use, compatibility with internal components, and issues that might affect its performance in the field (such as it's ability to be used in or near water). Other projects, such as envisioning 3D printable components for prototyping may be undertaken depending on the Student Expert's goals and interests.

Workflow in an open-source community also means that the student expert will document their process and consider the input of a supportive community of stakeholders -- for example, using existing design work at PublicLab.org as a starting point for the project. Our emphasis is on a reliable, straightforward, and well-presented setup process, that's also flexible -- we expect community members to modify and build upon this design.

The Student Expert will gain experience working in an open-source community by sharing updates about:

  • Prototypes and design process: including successes, failures and troubleshooting
  • Field testing their designs
  • Use of early-adopter beta kits by others
  • End-to-end assembly and use documentation with photos and if possible, videos
  • Open source design files posted with costs and manufacturing processes as required

About this Internship Project

For this internship, you will gain hands-on, real-world experience by:

  • Working with Autodesk tools to create useful components of environmental research tools that can be produced and distributed to a large community of users.
  • Engaging with all parts of the design process, from problem definition to field testing and revision.
  • Collaborating daily with an active, open-source community, by asking questions, sharing progress, seeking input and critique.
  • Working with stakeholders to consider real-world uses and considerations that apply to their designs and manufacturing process.
  • Documenting their work for others, and sharing step-by-step instructions so that community members can share and build on to an existing product.

Note: electronics work is essentially complete, and circuit design expertise is not required, as the design work will focus on enclosure, integration, and documentation.

Qualifications, Skills & Experience

The ideal candidate should possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • Be able to do rapid prototyping with laser cut and/or 3d-printed parts, with a focus on readily available materials like cardboard, paper, acrylic, and wood.
  • Have expertise or interest in processes which are scalable to the hundreds of units at reasonable cost to our organization.
  • Have experience using Autodesk software including Fusion 360 and Inventor.
  • Have enrolled in theAutodesk Student Expert program prior to the internship commencing.

What's in it for you

  • A stipend of $9,200 over the 10 week Internship period.
  • A $500 material budget.
  • A chance to do work on an immediate impact: you'll see your designs being put to use right away by people working on environmental issues in their communities.
  • Establish your presence in an active community network of makers, researchers, developers and advocates working to create open-source hardware.
  • You'll be working as a member of a supportive and dynamic team in Providence, RI, where you will have the chance to engage with different aspects of the community design process.

Please submit your resume and a cover letter to jobs@publiclab.org by March 15, 2018. No phone calls please.

Public Lab is committed to a diverse, multicultural work environment. We encourage people with different ability sets, people of color, and people of all sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities to apply.



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