In my role as an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seattle University, I’ve learned that successful engineers are constantly challenging themselves and learning new things. Although the basic principles of math and science remain unchanged, engineering solutions for the developing world must be adapted for the local community.
That’s where my work with IEEE Smart Village comes in. I serve on the ISV Steering Committee, but I am also the President of KiloWatts for Humanity, which mentors and helps ISV partners get their projects off the ground. Enabling electricity access, entrepreneurship and education can be challenging in the developing world, but fostering the exchange of knowledge and best practices among our partners is very rewarding. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit communities before and after an electrification project is completed. Villages that were once dark at night are now illuminated, with radios and TVs playing late into the night, connecting residents to the outside world.
While many become involved in this work to “give back,” many engineers I know are amazed at how much they learned and grew as professionals!
I am an electrical engineer and love working with IEEE Smart Village as a
volunteer. My favorite part is working with energy entrepreneurs to electrify undeserved populations. I have worked with ISV for the last four years as part of the Forum for Sustainable Operations and as part of working with new entrepreneurs to launch viable businesses.
The most rewarding part of this work is seeing the positive transformation of a community through rural electrification. It’s not just providing units of energy, it’s improving the lives of people through community development. This empowers communities to do more projects, even those not energy related. Through this process, I was surprised to learn how much demand there is for refrigeration and freezing. That was an unintended consequence of providing power; ice preserves fish and meat, making it easier for people to bring perishable products to market. This allows them to make more money because less of less spoilage.
I encourage all engineers to get involved with Smart Village because you can use your knowledge, and learn new skills, to provide energy to people in less economically developed countries. It’s very rewarding to know that you can make a difference in improving the lives of others.