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IEEE Smart Village – Denver, July 26-30

IEEE Smart Village empowers off-grid communities through education and the creation of sustainable, affordable, locally owned entrepreneurial energy businesses. The IEEE-wide initiative envisions basic electrical and educational services to more than 50 million people by 2025.

Please join us at the 2015 IEEE PES General Meeting in Denver for panel sessions, presentations and committee meetings as we engage, enable and empower IEEE members to join this IEEE-wide humanitarian initiative.

To view the entire schedule with event descriptions and more, click here.

To view the schedule at-a-glance, click here.

IEEE Smart Village Named Finalist in 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit’s Finance for Resilience (FiRe)

IEEE humanitarian program widely recognized for helping to eradicate global poverty by empowering off-grid communities through sustainable locally managed renewable energy and community-based education

IEEE Smart Village, an IEEE Foundation Signature Program, announced today it has received several recognitions to further support its mission to help energy-deprived communities globally build toward sustainability through the use of renewable energy and technology.

“We are honored to be recipients of these major recognitions as they are a testament to the powerful, transformative work we are doing around the world.”

Named finalist for 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Summit’s Finance for Resilience (FiRe)

In April, IEEE Smart Village was named a finalist for the 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit’s Finance for Resilience (FiRe) initiative, which recognizes powerful ideas and actionable interventions for clean energy, climate, sustainability and green growth. IEEE Smart Village with its “Scalable and Standards-based DC Microgrids” presentation, given at the BNEF Summit in New York April 13-15, was recognized for creating connectable, scalable DC microgrids that leverage new standards to advance the spread of electrical goods and communications access for developing countries.


Supports Kilowatts for Humanity on Alstom’s We Share the Power Program grant

Recently, Alstom Renewable Power’s We Share the Power Program awarded a €24,900 grant to Kilowatts for Humanity—an initiative supported by Seattle University faculty, staff and students and IEEE Smart Village volunteers. Kilowatts for Humanity, along with IEEE Smart Village, is committed to sustainable energy development projects around the globe. The award is in support of an electrification project in southern Zambia set to kick-off in June 2015, with installation in June 2016. We Share the Power is a program launched by Alstom Renewable Power. The aim of the program is to save energy consumption in Alstom in order to support projects that give access to energy.

Announces partnership with humanitarian organization in Cameroon

IEEE Smart Village awarded a $150,000 grant to the Torchbearer Foundation (TBF) for Missions, Reconciliation and Development —a U.S. faith-based non-governmental organization (NGO) operating humanitarian projects in the nation of Cameroon. In partnering with TBF, IEEE Smart Village will establish three independent, self-sustaining micro-utilities in West Africa providing lighting for 2,000 customers and impacting 10,000 rural off-grid energy-impoverished Cameroonians. SD Meyers provided matching funds of $75,000 for this project.

Featured in TEDx Talk presentation

Dr. Avnaesh Jayantilal from Alstom Grid and a member of IEEE Smart Village, spoke at a TEDx event about “Community Microgrids for a Sustainable Future” funded by the Alstom Foundation. Dr. Jayantilal described the profound educational benefits at home and abroad by training engineering students and pairing access to sustainable power with universities. Click here to watch the full session.


“To address the needs of 1.4 billion people living without access to electricity, IEEE Smart Village is not only committed to the delivery of energy and technology solutions but to improving and empowering lives in remote communities in lasting, sustainable ways,” said Ray Larsen, co-founder of IEEE Smart Village. “We are honored to be recipients of these major recognitions as they are a testament to the powerful, transformative work we are doing around the world.”

IEEE Smart Village is a donor-supported program currently serving over 15,000 people through local partners in Cameroon, Haiti, India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Sudan. The IEEE Smart Village goal is to provide basic electrical and educational services to more than 50 million people by 2025. For more information on IEEE Smart Village, including how to get involved and to donate, please visit:

About IEEE

IEEE, a large, global technical professional organization, is dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Learn more at

About IEEE Foundation

As the philanthropic arm of IEEE, the IEEE Foundation inspires the generosity of donors so it may enable IEEE programs that enhance technology access, literacy and education, as well as support the IEEE professional community.

The IEEE Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization in the United States, fulfills its purpose by soliciting and managing donations, recognizing the generosity of our donors, awarding grants to IEEE grassroots projects of strategic importance, supporting high impact Signature Programs, serving as a steward of donations that empower bright minds, recognize innovation and preserve the history of technology. With donor support, the IEEE Foundation strives to be a leader in transforming lives through the power of technology and education.

For IEEE Smart Village
Carrie Owens, +1 731-225-3414
IEEE Foundation
Karen Kaufman, +1 732-981-3436

CSI business workshop – Oct. 10, prior to GHTC

CSI is hosting its annual special workshop October 10 in San Jose, Calif., prior to GHTC.
Space is limited. Registration is required (see below for details).

The workshop has two main purposes: (1) To bring together CSI collaboration members to discuss recent sustainable initiative progress, and (2) to discuss the paths forward to expand operations globally as a new Signature Program of the IEEE Foundation. Signature status brings direct Foundation development staff and management support to secure a growing seed funding budget to launch up to 10 new partnership startups per year.

The CSI strategy is not only to seed new initiatives with equipment and training donations, but to plant the sustainable business and operations model originally developed in partnership with Sirona in Haiti which achieved the original pilot demonstration of a sustainable business model in 2011-2012. Subsequently the model was refined to include Standard Operating Procedures in 2013-14 for easy dissemination globally. Expanding to scale is the final goal which involves both a highly efficient affordable service and the ability of the startup to attract capital to grow from ten systems to 2,000 systems, each serving 8-homes and ~ 500 people for one-million people in total by 2020.

Reliable community owned electricity is a first step toward the developmental empowerment of whole communities from within. To be lastingly significant, many more steps are urgently needed, beginning with broad community-based education. The CSI Education vision is called “Learning beyond the Lightbulb.” It envisions cooperating with partners in both Community Based Online Courses but also in community development beyond the Lightbulb such as clean water, sanitation, rural healthcare, local governance and commerce. Broad education, including but not only technical, is key to the long-term success of all sustainable development.

Workshop Structure:
Introductory presentations will encourage interactive sharing of perspectives and questions from participants. Some of the strategy themes being considered are as follows:
1. What new initiatives have been made since the initial pilot programs established in Haiti in 2011-12?
2. What are the Learning Beyond the Light Bulb community based education program’s major goals and pilot plans?
3. How well are the system products working and what are current improvement goals?
4. How standardized are the product and the business models and are local variants desirable or not?
5. What evidence do we have for business sustainability and impact in different regions?
6. How are present partnerships structured and what are partnership requirements going forward?
7. What are the immediate expansion plans for 2014-15?
8. What progress has the Signature Program made and what results are expected in 2014-15?

Note that participants are welcome to suggest topics not covered above.
Discussion Leaders will be drawn from active IEEE CSI Practitioners, Partners and IEEE Humanitarian Program Leadership. A detailed agenda will be posted soon.

Date: Oct., 10, 2014; 8 am – 5 pm
Venue: Holiday Inn Airport Hotel, 1350 N. First Street, San Jose, Calif.
Registration: Space is limited, so registration is required. Contact Albe Larsen, Check-in at the workshop begins at 8:00 am.
Fees: No fees for the workshop; however there will be a charge to cover refreshments and a box lunch option – payable at the meeting.

GHTC link

Please register as soon as possible. We hope to see you there!
With best regards,
Ray Larsen & Robin Podmore, CSI Co-Chairs

CSI becomes Signature Program of the IEEE Foundation

CSI co-founders Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore
CSI co-founders Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore

Signature Programs are IEEE-run public imperatives with which the foundation partners to proactively raise external philanthropic dollars. Signature Programs must display proven success and fit within one of the Foundation’s two areas of focus: (1) education, including the history of technology and (2) the profession, applying technology for social impact and innovation. The signature programs must be significant, have a broad impact, and inspire people to connect with the foundation and with IEEE. Signature Programs increase the impact of donations through programs that are, in the words of the IEEE’s tagline, Advancing Technology for Humanity.

The IEEE Foundation cultivates resources and relationships to advance IEEE’s core purpose to foster technological innovation and excellence to benefit humanity. The IEEE Foundation relies on donations to bring the exhilaration of scientific discovery to students, foster technological innovation, preserve history, and promote awareness of the long-reaching effects of engineering and its impact on humanity.

With contributions from generous sponsors around the world, the IEEE Foundation seeks to increase the understanding of how technologies are created and how they impact society, individuals, and the environment. Interdisciplinary in its activities and transnational in scope, the IEEE Foundation has the potential to improve people’s lives.

“Many individuals have made outstanding contributions to CSI and we thank you all,” co-founder Ray Larsen announced. “At this time we would especially like to acknowledge both the staff and Governing Boards of IEEE HQ, IEEE Foundation, IEEE NPSS and IEEE PES.”

CSI started during the 2009 IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge Meetings. The CSI team includes a very broad cross section of IEEE members.

“We have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal of starting up 10 NGOs each year and empowering each of them to impact the lives of 1,000,000 people,” co-founder Robin Podmore added.

Achieving the status of an IEEE Signature Program is a key step to making this goal a reality.

“IEEE is an amazing organization,” Larsen exclaimed. “This honor will allow us accomplish goals as a team that we never even dreamed of. We will now be able to extend opportunities to more and more talented men, women, boys and girls no matter what their current income level.”

CSI Project Manager visits Bamenda, Cameroon

The following excerpt is from an email from Michael Wilson, CSI Project Manager:

Wednesday last week was a full day of travel from Yaounde to Bamenda, followed by meetings related to Torch Bearer Foundation’s (TBF’s) missionary work with our team. CSI project worked picked up from Sunday afternoon with preparations for the Reliable Energy Department ramp-up and field visits of the present week.

We spent two full days in meetings and worked with nine candidates for the SunBlazer sol energy program. Following the outline of the $150k short form proposal, from preparations by the TBF team prior to our arrival, a series of meetings and introductions secured eight candidates from the Bamenda Polytechnic University, and one candidate who heard of the opportunity and asked to participate (he is a physics teacher who is working toward his degree in Renewable Energy via an Italian long-distance learning program).

We have a group of young, intelligent, eager to learn, electric engineering trained men, and one woman.

Our goal was to have a 50%/50% mix of men to women, but alas, with the ration of male to female students at the Polytechnic, the pool of potential female candidates was quite small. We are fortunate to have even one. Nevertheless, we are seeing the potential of women from the business school participating in the program to help bolster the business planning and franchise model aspects of the SunBlazer deployment. As in the $150K proposal, the goal of building entrepreneurship skills is paramount to the vision of the TBF scheme to successful power scheme deployment in the rural off-grid village.

A considerable amount of time was also spent in introducing the overall SunBlazer scheme of deployment, a white-board review of the hardware of the SunBlazer and PBK, and other introductions on the goals of the program as a whole were introduced. The first day’s homework was to take home the SunBlazer written instructions and to list all of the words in the documents that they did not understand.

The first hour of the second day included a vocabulary check…U-bolt, torxs bit, wheel chalk, rickshaw mode, etc., are a few of the words and terms that needed some illumination. As English language instruction here follows largely British terminology, what we call a wrench, they know as a spanner.

The nine candidates were broken into three teams of three each. Each team was given 45-minutes of hands-on assembly work, while the other two teams were given the responsibilities of documentation, photography, and reading instructions. This afforded each person in the team to have a substantial period of physical contact with the hardware, while others took a deep interest in “filling in the blanks” of the instructions. Overall goal for the teams is to not just learn how to assemble a SunBlazer, but to also capture the full essence of its construction with an eye toward local manufacturing as well as in-turn developing the knowledge and materials to allow the future teaching of others.

Initial inspection of the unwrapped SunBlazer in transport mode indicated that the hardware was intact. Upon first opening of the wooden end caps of the front ‘end’ of the SB-II, although it still had the full poly-wrap from Chicago, AND had an additional covering of 6-mil plastic sheeting, water had nevertheless migrated into one end of the SB-II. Three of the white buckets containing tools were full of water, and water had pooled on the cardboard boxes below. Fortunately the unit was sitting on a slope which allowed water to directly drain out, so other than the three buckets full of water, there was no pooled water in the base of the station box. Suffice it to say, a substantial amount of time was spent drying the tools, bolts, clamps, etc. from the buckets. Fortunately, the only tool loss was the tape measure, its internal spring did not tolerate being submerged in water more than a month.

The last hour of the day was dedicated to review of what was accomplished, more indoctrination on the overall goals of the SunBlazer program, where these candidates fit into the overall scheme of the goal to impact 1M Cameroonians within five years, etc.

Everyone was tremendously excited, motivated, and engaged. These graduates have not found employment in their chosen profession within Cameroon, and greatly doubt they ever will. Trained largely as power engineers and T & D technicians, without any type of expansion of the existing national grid or power generation, there is little likely hood of them finding work directly related to their dreams and training.

Every one of them poured their livelihood into their Polytechnic EE degrees. None of them come from wealthy families. Their families don’t own cars and can’t afford schooling. One of the psychological tests administered was a 12-question GRIT evaluation which gives an indication of a person’s “true grit” to stick to and work towards a goal despite obstacles . . . Their passion is reflected in their determination to succeed. I was quite surprised that every one of them nearly maxed out on the GRIT scale, indicating that once they decide what they want to do, they don’t back down and keep at it until they get there.