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McGill University Design Team
  • I'm not really sure who reads this or when, so please forgive me. I'll write this idea in a couple of spots.

    I have shared the OSE Ted Talk with my colleagues in Bioresource Engineering, our agricultural and environment program at the Macdonald Campus of McGill University. There are many students who believe in OSE's mission, and would like to find a way to get involved. I think one way would be to have an OSE design team here in our department. We would then have more opportunity to accrue funding from various university sources. I think what would work for us, would be to have a project that we can work on as a club, as we have access to necessary tool through our machine shop. In terms of scale I would expect abour 4-5 student to be highly committed with another 10-15 interested in contributing.

    Please let me know what you think,

    Bryan Wattie
    Third Year Bioresource Engineering Student
    McGill University
  • 9 Comments sorted by
  • I can't believe no one answered this yet!

    I apologize, I guess they're all busy...

    Sounds like an absolutely great idea to me. What do you need from current factor e farm contributors to do it?

    The best part is that you can go and do it, publishing everything in accordance with the full documentation mantra, and whatever you do get done stays done and will continue to exist as a stepping stone for future development. So you don't have to worry about your work going down the crapper when it's all open source. Just go for it in whatever way you are best able - I am not a real contributor currently so I'm sure someone can tell you this better than I can, but if you are looking for information on the most important things that need to be done here is what my humble take is:

    -Multimachine, and casting and other basic fabrication, this will be useful in the other prototyping work that needs to be done

    -Materials: Aluminum refining is the main one.

    Seems to me based on what I have read and seen like those are core issues right now.

    I think the theory is that the wiki is supposed to contain all the documentation there is on the project, period. So that's where all the information needed to collaborate should be located, ready to go.
  • I too wonder where our leaders are at the moment. We have had a MASSIVE response to the TED presentation. So I can only assume there's a lot of activity going on in the background right now.

    I would like to make a suggestion that we concentrate on the basics first. Get that done, then move onwards and upwards. Something that needs to be done I think is an examination of the earth brick system of building. This building method is one of our corner stones at this point. We need ideas on how to best use the brick and how to actually make them so they are as strong and durable as possible. What kind of dirt and what additives to put in the dirt if any.

    Proper testing is critical. How much pressure can the bricks handle? How well does a CEB wall stand up to various loads? What about Earthship building techniques? Can we use the bricks to create that heat storing mass? What about a mixture of building techniques? Straw bale and CEB maybe?

    What about a CEB (compressed Earth Brick) greenhouse? I think an Earthship greenhouse using primarily CEB techniques would work great and cost very little to build.

    How's that?

    Gregor is right, the Wiki is ideally the place to put all this but it still needs work. If you're comfortable in a Wiki environment, you'll have no problem.

    I look forward to seeing what your gang comes up with. Welcome!

    The Dawg
  • Just as a quick note, Bryan has communicated with us through email. We have expressed interest, but I am not aware of a concrete response.

    @Dawg, there is extensive literature online concerning CEBs, I found and read several 200 page .pdfs a few days ago (sadly, I did not save any of the links). However, there are many sites that go into great detail about strength and ideal composition.

    Bricks are good at storing thermal mass, but not great insulators. Like straw bales their weakness is water. But unlike straw they will quickly erode rather than slowly rot.

    A quick google search produced stuff like this:[1].pdf
  • In my opinion I thought the amount of "background" was supposed to be minimized. That is what transparency is. A Wiki is a documentation system, really, not a presentation system. The information about what is going on behind the scenes probably involves note, calendars, etc. and it might make a lot of sense if that is *done using the wiki*- not to be confused with posting it on the wiki. A wiki is a -documentation system- that should be able to do that sort of thing. You put all your documentation in it and it helps you organize it, control access to it, and let others do the same.

    There is presumably a special page somewhere that included recent wiki edits ( oh, here : ). People could thusly keep up with what is happening, and it allows people to contribute more readily which is good. Notice that list can be sorted in various ways too so if you create a category for "high level activity" like contacting collaborators etc. then that would make it easy for people to see that information without effort on the part of said leaders with a lot on their plate already. And I say without effort because I think the point is that the wiki replaces those other calendars etc. that are right now lying on someone's hard drive (as long as it is well backed up! And you don't lose your connection I guess, unless there is an add on that lets you edit the wiki offline then sync them when you log back on? might be)

    edit: hm, it just occurred to me that this works as a discussion forum and even a basic sort of blog as well, just sort the pages accordingly. If there is or were a more sophisticated search mechanism it would be/is almost like a human readable database system for documents.
    If this were done, then the discussions would be automatically sorted and put in the relevant place so future contributors don't have to hunt things down in the blog and forum, although maybe it is not the best way to do the blog all things considered.

  • Hey Brian,

    I posted this same response to your submission in the Education Forum.

    I think that this is a great idea. I think that universities could be a tremendous resource for open source technology development.

    Bryan, it would be wonderful if you could start a club at your school that would be centered around open source hardware development. It could be a great goal to choose one of the GVCS technologies to develop over the course of a semester. You could probably even get university funding for such a club. Then, each semester you could focus on developing a new technology. The larger goal would be to have groups of university students all over the country or world working collectively to develop the GVCS and a robust plethora of open hardware designs (including CAD and CAM files).

    Bryan, I highly encourage you to start such a group at your school. Furthermore, as you do so, you could develop an OSE University Club Starter Kit outlining the resources and procedures required for starting such a club (as I am sure that the process would be very similar at most universities). That way, other people who are interested in starting clubs could have a how-to manual for how to do so, making the process much easier.

    In order to learn how your design team can best help and to decide which GVCS technologies might be most appropriate and helpful for your design team to undertake, you should consult the following pages:

    - Get Involved page (
    - Global Village Construction Set (
    - GVCS Development Template (
    - GVCS Tools Status (
    - Subject Matter Experts (
    - OSE Proposal 2012 (

    As an added point, perhaps we could be more actively and strategically marketing information about OSE and the GVCS to universities, encouraging the formation of Open Source Hardware Development Clubs such as what Bryan is suggesting. Does anybody have any ideas about how we could do this? The media package being developed by Isaiah and others will certainly be helpful in this regard. Perhaps it could also be worthwhile for Marcin or somebody else to try and do a lecture/presentation tour geared toward universities? Other thoughts?

    All the best,
  • @gregor, I am confused by your post, though I think it might have been directed at me in some way, could you please explain?
  • No it's not directed at you ARG, just thinking aloud.
  • Ah, glad I checked.
  • I've been in contact with Bryan about this. Hopefully his team can take the lead on designing one of the agricultural tools.

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