Engineering for the Middle of Nowhere: Toby Cumberbatch at TEDx

POSTED ON: December 21, 2011


"Engineering for the Middle of Nowhere" was a talk deliverd on November 29, 2011 at Columbia University by Cooper Union professor Toby Cumberbatch.

Toby Cumberbatch has taught at The Cooper Union since 1994 as a member of the Electrical Engineering department. He founded the Center for Sustainable Engineering, Art and Architecture -- Materials, Manufacturing and Minimalism (SEA2M3) in 2005 to bring together students from the schools of Engineering, Art and Architecture to focus on problems that address the fundamental needs of energy, water and shelter in very poor communities in the less industrialized countries. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana and a visiting professor at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, Rwanda.

Toby travels regularly to East and West Africa, taking students to Northern Ghana to work on energy and water audits, defluoridation filters, solar lighting systems, low energy housing and improved wood stoves.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.