ESW + Open Source Ecology

ESW was recently approached by Open Source Ecology, a group that aims to make the machinery of life modular, low-cost, and open-source.

You can check out their founder's TEDTalk for a brief overview of their current project (which is now several years further along), the Global Village Construction Set, which aims to make open-source designs for 50 common machines so that anyone with the right skills and materials can build a tractor, brick-making machine, or (eventually) laser cutter. 

OSE operates within a very collaborative environment, either physically at their main location in Missouri, or digitally via weekly Design Sprints, which spend an hour each on 7-8 topics such as specific components of a particular machine. Their projects fit with a lot of what ESW is trying to do - these machines can help make a more economically and locally sustainable world - and the design and build aspects appeal to my technical side (hopefully yours as well!). 

Where ESW may be able to help OSE organizationally is in expanding to have more physically co-located groups of people working on the GVCS - we've got a bit of experience with a network of chapters. We're still figuring out what that partnership will look like, but we wanted to offer the following project opportunities to any chapters that are interested (taken from an email from Marcin):

If we are talking about the involvement of Engineers for a Sustainable World - we would like to involve them in developments on the Tractor, Brick Press, Power Cube, Soil Pulverizer, and CNC Torch Table. 
One point of development is refining the LifeTrac 5 Tractor to produce LifeTrac 6. We just built it in Missouri and sent it down for initial testing in New Orleans at an urban gardening project. The tractor is made of several modules: cab, wheel units, loader, pivot, Power Cube. The problem would be to do a number of design improvements:
1. Narrowing down wheel base, as right now the tractor almost doesn't fit on an 8' wide trailer.
2. Fixing the loader arm cylinder mounting
3. Minimizing part count on the bucket curl
4. Narrowing down the cab
5. Using a Power Cube where its frame serves as part of the structure.
6. Improving the geometry of the loader arms
7. Minimizing part count in pivot

Does this sound interesting to you? OSE has a standard set of design tools, such as Sketchup, that they make use of - but they need interested and knowledgeable people to help create useful things. I'd love to see many of our chapters have OSE-focused project teams, both designing machines and building physical copies for local partners. If you're interested in more information, send an email to Rob Best at and we'll get you hooked in - or just jump into OSE's site and let them know you're with ESW. This is a very promising partnership, and we hope you'll be as excited as we are!