Maggie Grout (Mgmt’21) is the founder and CEO of Thinking Huts, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing global access to education by constructing 3D-printed schools where they are needed most. In close partnership with the local community, Thinking Huts constructed its first school in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, in 2022. Inspired by a conversation with her dad, Maggie first conceptualized Thinking Huts when she was just 15 years old.
Can you tell me about your “why” behind Thinking Huts?
I was born in a poor rural village in China, and can relate to many of the people we are serving. I often think of how unfair it is that thousands of miles away there is a girl just like me — with the same capabilities, drive and passion — but because she did not have access to education, she now faces a drastically different life without a choice over her home life or career.
Why 3D printing?
3D printing allows us to build schools in a fraction of the time. The three main benefits are speed, scalability and strength. Through thoughtful applications of technology, we can create holistic solutions that lift economies and break the cycle of poverty.
How are you partnering with the local community in Fianarantsoa?
We worked with EMIT, a university in Fianarantsoa, to build on their existing campus and form a long-term partnership to eventually employ their STEM students. Wherever we operate, it is important that we are both needed and welcomed by the community. It is also important that we work respectfully alongside our local workers and the community feels like part of our Thinking Huts family because we are truly invested in their success.
Do you have a favorite moment from Fianarantsoa?
My favorite was the day we opened our school in celebration with the community on April 14, 2022, and planted a bougainvillea vine, which symbolizes our promise to increase access to education as long as we are able and our commitment to growing stronger as each year passes by.
What is next for you and for Thinking Huts?
Our beehive-inspired Honeycomb Campus, consisting of multiple connecting hexagonal huts, is next on the horizon. Also located in Madagascar, it will be the world’s first 3D-printed school campus and will serve three villages on the west coast with students aged 4 to 16. Beyond the school building, we are incorporating solar power, water, WiFi and toilets to ensure that the community thrives beyond our involvement.