Students Design a Better World

PHOTO: wello

Students around the world are designing and distributing products for developing countries. Here are some of their recent innovations:

A Neonatal Incubator From Car Parts

Problem: More than 4 million babies, mostly from the world's poorest regions, die within a month of birth every year, and many of these deaths could have been prevented had a working incubator been available. Most developing countries lack access to high-tech medical devices, and a lack of infrastructure makes them difficult to maintain when they do exist.

Solution: Over the course of several years, Rhode Island School of Design students at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovation Technology helped create a low- cost solution so effective it was named one of Time magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2010. Tom Weis, Mike Hahn and Adam Geremia were among the RISD students who built the prototype for the incubator designed with used car parts. The durable, low- cost, neonatal incubator has easy upkeep, so it can be repaired in the regions of the world where it's most needed.

This story is part of ABC News' "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative, a year-long series of broadcast and digital coverage focusing on global health issues. Watch the kickoff on a special-edition of "20/20" tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

For complete coverage and information on how you can personally make a difference, go to

Do you have an idea that you think can change the world? CLICK HERE to submit an idea to "Be the Change: Save a Life."

Better Cooking Stoves

Problem: More than 3 billion people use open fires for cooking. The fumes produced by this method kill an estimated 1.9 million people a year, according to the United Nations.

Solution: Paul Montgomery, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, is helping design a better cook stove for people in developing countries. Montgomery's device, still at the experimental stage, captures some of the stove's waste heat and converts the heat into sound waves in a simple thermo-acoustic engine. Then the acoustic energy is converted into a tiny bit of electricity in an electro-acoustic transducer. The electricity in turn can partly charge a battery (delivering well-needed lighting after dark) and operate a fan directed at the combustion of the stove's biofuel, making the whole process more energy-efficient. The more-efficient the combustion, the less biomass is burned during cooking, which produces fewer fumes, making it safer and healthier.

Wheelchair Can Tackle Unpaved Roads, Rough Terrain

Water Transport

Problem: More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. According to the United Nations, the average person should consume at least 5 gallons of water each day, or 44 pounds. The task of water collection often falls to women and young girls, who carry the water on their heads and often miss school in the daily search for water.

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