11/05/2013 01:40 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2016

A Solution for Poor Mothers, When Expensive Hospital Incubators Won't Do


Sometimes a single course can change a student’s life. That’s what happened to Rahul Panicker, Jane Chen, Linus Liang, and later Naganand Murty when they used design thinking methods to move from blank page to insight to action. They turned a routine class assignment into a real-life product: the Embrace Infant Warmer, an easy-to-use medical device that costs 99 percent less than a traditional baby incubator and has the potential to save millions of newborns in developing countries.

The course was Design for Extreme Affordability, almost universally referred to at the as simply “Extreme” -- which pretty accurately describes both the pace and the class experience. Taught by Stanford business school professor Jim Patell and a faculty team, Extreme is a multidisciplinary melting pot in which students from departments all over the university come to the to develop solutions for daunting, real-world problems.