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Dafna Szafer India 2015

Thanks to the support of the Center for South Asia, I was able to travel to Ahmedabad this summer and spend three months working at ReMaterials. ReMaterials is a social venture whose aim is to deliver superior roofing to homes in slums and villages across India, replacing corrugated metal roofs with a cheaper, safer alternative. Their first product, ModRoof, is a modular roofing system made from recycled waste. My role at the company this summer was to create a new mechanical roof design, taking an initially step-like design and overhauling it in order to make it flat, both reducing the amount of recycled material needed and making the roof more amenable to activities often done on the roof in India, such as sleeping and washing clothes.

The process of redesigning the ModRoof system involved several iterations and extensive prototyping, using SolidWorks to model each version of the system on the computer. I designed a steel joint cap to hold the roofing panels together vertically, also doing substantial modifications to the workflow of silicone sealant application in order to effectively make customer roofs waterproof. Ultimately, ReMaterials chose to move forward with this design, installing it on a real customer home during my final days in India, which gave me a feeling of fulfillment beyond any I’ve experienced before. If all goes well, this design will be used for the next thousand installations that ReMaterials completes in India.

During my time in India, I was lucky to work alongside not only a talented and passionate executive team, but an incomparably hardworking and kind manufacturing team, all of whom were natives to Gujarat and played an important role in helping me learn about my surroundings and adjust to the pace of life. I am deeply appreciative to have had the opportunity to experience the fascinating and beautiful country of India, to be immersed in meaningful and enjoyable work, and to build relationships with many individuals who helped shape the way I now understand the field of social entrepreneurship. 

-Dafna Szafer