Graphic Design Students Help Solve Farming Challenges in Thailand
July 31, 2013
By Jeff Hill
Graphic design alumna Krissy Beck traveled to Thailand this past month to help design agricultural tools and techniques for Thai farmers as part of the Drexel Thai Harvest Initiative. Each year, the graphic design program chooses one student to participate in the initiative. Beck, who graduated this past June, said her initial interest in the program came from her friendship with last year's graphic designer for the team, Hannah Olin.
“It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to use my experience to help others,” says Beck. “One of my classmates, Lauren Beltramo and I contacted Jody Graff and expressed our interest in the program, and we were put in contact with Dr. Moseson, who immediately put us to work designing the fundraising materials.”
Alex Moseson, a mechanical engineering professor, has led the Drexel Thai Harvest Initiative since its inception in 2009, with an aim to solve three main challenges for Thai farmers in harvesting rice: creating tools that are easier to use for the difficult terrain; developing a less time-consuming rice harvesting process; and finding methods to improve harvest yield. As the team’s graphic designer, Beck was ultimately responsible for the instruction manuals for the various tools designed for the Thai farmers.
“The team only travels to Thailand once per year, so these manuals are a crucial leave-behind,” says Beck. “In the case of the rice planter manual, it gives the farmers the opportunity to create their own tools without the aid of the Drexel team, and with the water testing manual, the people are able to test their own water for harmful bacteria. While many of the farmers can read, it is important to have these pictorial manuals so that those who are illiterate can still benefit from the efforts of the team.”
Beck describes her experiences in Thailand as “absolutely unforgettable,” and recommends that other graphic design students apply their talents to social causes.
“The Drexel Thai Harvest Initiative is an amazing opportunity to take the skills that we have learned at Drexel and apply them toward a greater cause,” she says. “It also provides the rare opportunity to design in such a unique environment. More than anything, I wanted to be a part of something much bigger than myself, and the Thai Harvest Initiative did not disappoint.”