Blum Center Fellow Gains Real-World Skills, Implements Real-World Solutions

Stephanie Lew with Precision Planter and team

By Rowan O’Connell-Gates, student writer, Global Affairs

Prior to her senior year of high school, fourth year Environmental Science and Management major Stephanie Lew, traveled to Nicaragua, gaining a better perspective on the world. Yearning for another international experience and looking to put her passion for food development to action, Lew spent this past summer working on an agriculture development project in D’kar, Botswana as a UC Davis Blum Center Fellow.

Already realizing the emerging impact of food development, during her third year at UC Davis, Lew discovered “D-Lab,” a two quarter course that teaches hands-on skills with a focus on developing countries. Administered by the UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies, the courses enable students like Lew in formulating sustainable poverty alleviation projects.

“With development you don't just come up with your project and go somewhere and implement it. It’s based off of a need, and finding that need takes connections and time,” Lew said. “D-Lab connected me with a project.”

Blum Stories
The first iteration of the Precision Planter developed in 2015 (left) and the revised version (right).

Through the D-Lab course, Lew was introduced to the Precision Planter, an agricultural tool designed by Mathambo Ngakaeaja, in rural Botswana. Shaped like a metal spear, the planter is mounted with bottles of seed and fertilizer, which are dispensed into the spaded soil with less damage to the earth and a greater potential crop yield.

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