GHTC 2018 Lab Panel

GHTC 2018 Lab Plenary Panel

Saturday, October 20th 11:30 AM -12:30 PM

The panel is on "The Role of Education in Development".  We are excited to have a great panel this year. All Panelists are listed below.


Kofi Taha - Associate Director MIT D-Lab as moderator

As part of MIT D-Lab, Kofi's work focuses on advancing asset-based approaches to community-driven technology design and solution finding in communities where people on average earn less than $3 a day. He has co-facilitated village-level technology design trainings in Uganda and Haiti; helped interdisciplinary teams commercialize social impact products in Ghana and Tanzania; provided support to local innovation centers in Brazil, Colombia, and India; and helped build the International Development Innovation Network (, a global community of 1000+ innovators, entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, researchers, and educators. Kofi pursues similar work in K-12 after-school programs in Mississippi and Massachusetts that focus on making design and educational resources accessible to geographically and economically isolated communities. Regardless of context or whether technology is a focus, what drives his work is a commitment to improving the use of inclusive practices that lead to practical solutions and equitable opportunities in historically excluded communities. Kofi studied political economy at Columbia University, urban planning at MIT, and is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; he is from the Bronx and rarely eats pizza outside of New York City.

Keynote Speaker


Dr. Eric Verploegen, Research Engineer MIT D-Lab

Eric Verploegen joined D-Lab in 2014 to expand D-Lab's research efforts in the area of off-grid energy.

Prior to D-Lab, Eric worked on developing materials for solar cells and waste remediation systems for the oil and gas industry. He is passionate about helping organizations based in off-grid regions identify technologies, products, and distribution strategies to increase energy access in their communities.

He has a background in materials science and received his Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Technology from MIT in 2008.



Khanjan Mehta - Vice Provost for Creative Inquiry and Director for the Mountaintop Initiative Academic Affairs at Lehigh University

Khanjan Mehta is the inaugural Vice Provost for Creative Inquiry and Director of the Mountaintop Initiative at Lehigh University. Mehta champions the creation of learning environments and ecosystems where students, faculty, and external partners come together to increase their capacities for independent inquiry, take intellectual risks and learn from failure, recognize problems and opportunities, and effect constructive and sustainable change. In a previous avatar, Mehta was the Founding Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program, Assistant Professor of Engineering Design, and Affiliate Professor of International Affairs at Penn State. Mehta serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and Contributing Editor for the Engineering 4 Change portal. His latest book, Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It), takes a deep dive into STEM careers in social innovation and global sustainable development.




Dr. Silvia Figueira, Santa Clara University

Dr. Silvia Figueira received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, and her Ph.D. degree also in Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Computer Engineering at Santa Clara University, where she is also the director of the SCU Frugal Innovation Hub, in which she leads the Mobile Lab and advises students working on mobile applications for under-served communities and emerging markets. She has published over 70 papers and has established several collaborations with both companies in Silicon Valley and social entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad. 




Macauley Kenney, Instiglio

Macauley manages operations for Instiglio, a Colombian-based non-profit that consults on Results-Based Financing. Before joining Instiglio, she researched the impact of founding team composition on access to resources for improved cookstove companies as a fellow at MIT's D-Lab. Macauley co-founded the Rwandan freight brokerage Kumwe Logistics, and consulted on company operations for early-stage ventures in the U.S. She holds a master’s in Technology and Policy from MIT, a sustainability certificate from the Sloan School of Management, and a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She can be reached at