The Organic Solar Vest


The organic solar vest is a vest layered with organic photovoltaic cells designed to trap solar energy which would be capable of storing energy for powering mobile devices. The first prototype of this vest is being built by Nicholas Tali, Engineering Lab Coordinator with the support of Pearl Gemegah ’19 and the coordinators of the D:Lab.


Global Goals Jam #atAshesi


September 17, 2016 – Ashesi’s D:Lab joined a network of universities, agencies and local communities all over the world, in hosting the first ever Global Goals Jam. Hosted at the Norton-Motulsky hall, the session attracted members of the Ashesi community, students from Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology and other tertiary institutions.

During the 2015 Social Good Summit, where world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Development Programme, and MediaLAB Amsterdam launched the Global Goals Jam. At the Global Goals Jam, participants come together to design interventions towards tangible results in short sprints.


The session at Ashesi focused on three of the 17 goals, namely; affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and development and, responsible consumption and production. “For the jams, we created challenges for the goals we chose and worked towards creating actionable solutions,” said Theodore Philip Asare ’15, Design Thinking Coordinator at the D:Lab. “The D:Lab effectively identifies problems and attempts to solve them using design thinking, so the Jams was a great platform to hop on to help propose solutions to real problems that are going on in Africa and the world.”

Ashesi’s D:Lab is a space for members of the community to work on creative solutions to problems outside the classroom, using design thinking. “Looking forward, what we are hoping to do is to take these projects the D:Lab is currently working on, and perfect their solutions through initiatives like the Global Jams,” explained Carl Agbenyega ’15, Design Making Coordinator at the D:Lab. “So we will work with the team members of these projects to actively pursue these solutions to implement them in a more realistic way.”


**Initially published on the Ashesi Website

Sun Shade Energy – D:lab Mobile Report

This project is a student engagement collaboration with sun shade energy, a company that promotes cooling through the design of appropriate window systems, shading structures as well as adding the benefits of generating energy for basic lighting. Our role as D lab students is to employ the design thinking process to ideate, design and prototype shading structures that makes use of solar energy to generate electricity for homes as a source basic lighting.

Ghana being in the tropical region of the world is exposed to generous amounts of sunshine. 21st century challenges resulting in ozone layer depletion thus global warming, record intensified sunshine and heat gains in the country. As though that was not enough the recent power crisis, popularly known as ‘dumsor’ inhibits us from keeping our homes and offices cool, as we are unable to power our cooling devices. As such, Ghana residents spend huge amounts of money on cooling devices like air-conditioners etc., just to keep cool. Base and middle of the pyramid citizens, however uncomfortably contend with the heat while a free potential source of alternative power (the sun) remains unexplored. In capitalizing on the energy providing potentials of the Sun and working with sun shade energy, we tackle this problem by proffering cooling solutions using the heat problems of homes in Ghana by targeting home windows to reduce air-loss and heat-gain – thus reducing energy demanding cooling imperatives in such a way as to make air-conditioning affordable to all levels of the economy.

As at the time we joined the SSE team, primary research had already been carried-out by the founding team. As such, we engaged from secondary research to revise the research findings obtained initially and familiarized ourselves with the companies’ mission and vision. We were also supplied with resources to familiarize ourselves with the solar industry and to understand heat gain in homes. As technical partners, perspective synchronization with our clients guarantees us standardized and timely solutions for SSE.

Our project required us to focus only on ideation. This is because the research and analysis stages were covered up by the sun shade energy team. We went through a series of brainstorming sessions together with both the CEO and by ourselves to improve some existing shading products of the company as well as design new shades with the provided materials. The information that was obtained from the secondary research findings helped us to develop human centred products that would be readily accepted by our target market.

We observed through our research that the human mind associates shade with leaves. As such we decided to create some of our products with leaf-centred themes.

We also had a series of discussions as well as brainstorming sessions with the CEO of the company to come up with the right products for the right market. She emphasized on the importance of doing research and ensuring that our solution or product is perfect for our target users (the market). Also that our designs must not require a lot of behaviour/culture change.

By the end of summer school, we had developed product designs for window shades, window panes and blades. The window blades were to be redesigned with wood instead of the usual plain or tinted glass for maximum cooling effect. The blades would also be lined with solar panels that would capture the suns energy, to be converted to solar energy and stored up in battery cells for domestic use.

The shading material was also designed in the form of blinds with some splattered with leaf themes. These would also be lined with OPV solar panels to harness and store up energy from the sun. These products are in line with our primary goal at SSE to mitigate heat gain in homes and provide an alternate source of energy for the people of Ghana.

The projects timeline had to be extended due to clashes with examination preparation and other school activities. We are however looking forward to the next stage which has to do with developing prototypes for the designs generated and watching them manufactured into products ready for market consumption.


  • Sherrie Thompson-CEO and Founder of Sunshade Energy Ghana
  • Carl Agbenyegah-Project Facilitator
  • Pearl Gemegah-Project Lead
  • Martin Ampah
  • Gideon Larmie
  • Alex Waweru
  • Kofi Anamoah


D:Lab Fellows Update Session

Students with projects in the D:Lab updated the community with what they had done with their projects.

What: 4 back-to-back 5 min presentations on projects
When: 11:15am -11: 40am on Wednesday 24th February 2016
Where: McNulty Foundation Design Lab

D:Lab Farm Modelling Project (in collaboration with Sesamu) : Exploring agriculture and using design thinking to model farming practices in response to unique food demands in the market

D:Lab Deep Dives Project: Building capacity to undertake social innovation projects. We are currently collaborating with the Burro Brand team to learn ethnographic research methods for doing work in rural communities in order to discover opportunities for innovation.

D:Lab Business Modelling Project: Developing a business model for hands-on science education as a pilot to build skills for business modelling. The Fellow will lead a project to explore micro-franchise models for scaling social enterprises. The PEN Education project from MIT, which is also currently participating in an incubator program at Growth Mosaic in Osu, is providing us with this opportunity.

D:Lab Dumsor Project – Unlocking the mystery behind low solar power adoption on the equator: The Fellow will lead a project using design thinking to explore this issue in with technical assistance from Stadler RE from the Netherlands and Dr. Hanne Lauritzen from the Danish Technical Institute.

Polymer Solar Cells with Dr. Hanne Lauritzen

Dr. Hanne Lauritzen, Special Adviser to the Technical University of Denmark, Institute for Energy Conversion and Storage, brainstorms with students on simple household innovations that can be powered by Organic Photovoltaic Solar Cells on February 10, 2016.

A team was formed around these ideas to start the Organic Solar project. The team went on to conduct ethnographic research for this technology in the Ghanaian market