With solar projects, Lehigh Valley engineers work to restore war-damaged school in Africa
Overview of five solar PV projects at Sierra Leone school devastated by war, with cultural context
Jim Butt, Design Engineer, HindlePower, Inc., Member Engineers without Borders
The Lehigh Valley Professionals (LVP) chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) is partnering with the Centennial Secondary School (CSS) in the village of Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone. The school was ransacked and occupied by rebels during the civil war from 1991 to 2002. Much of the school's infrastructure, including the distributed water supply, sanitation facilities and building structures, was incapable of meeting even the most basic needs. Prior to the civil war, CSS was a boarding school, but boarding is no longer possible due to the inadequate facilities. Today, the school serves about 1,200 commuter students.
Nine trips have been made to the school by EWB-LVP Chapter members. To date, we have worked on solar panel lighting, solar water pumping, sanitation, education, providing a well and water distribution projects, and building reconstruction. The most recent trip was in January 2017.
Previous MAREA talks dealt with a solar lighting project and a solar water pumping project at CSS. This talk will give an overview of five different solar PV projects at the Centennial Secondary School as well as cultural context. A brief description of the next EWB-LVP project in Sierra Leone - The Mattru Hospital will also be given.
EWB-LVP coordinates its efforts in cooperation with the Centennial Old Students Association (CeOSA), Centennial's alumni association. The objective of the partnership is to leave the school with sustainable solutions that can be carried on without continued influx of external aid. Our goal is to enable the school to return to the high level of education which had been provided before the war.
Jim has spoken to our group several times over the past years about EWP-LVP work in Africa. Speaking from personal experience, he shares fascinating information, pictures and short videos explaining the means and technology necessary to build solar projects in Sierra Leone, and puts this work in the context of local cultural and personal connections. Jim's talks are always deeply interesting, warm and thought provoking. We hope you will join us at our October meeting for a meaningful and uplifting talk of international good work by local Lehigh Valley engineers.
The meeting is Tuesday, September 26, at 7:00 at TEKPark (9999 Hamilton Boulevard, Breinigsville, PA 18031, between Kutztown and Allentown). Meetings are free and open to the public. After the meeting, please plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there!
Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) is a national organization founded in 2002 with more than 16,800 members across the United States. EWB-USA has approximately 680 projects in 45 developing counties across the world. We are passionate people, with over 300 dedicated chapters, including university chapters on more than 180 campuses throughout the United States. There are three local chapters: student chapters at Lehigh and Lafayette, and the Lehigh Valley Professionals chapter.
James Butt holds a BSEE and MSEE from Lehigh University and holds three patents. He has worked as a Senior Engineer for Ford Motor Company, a Research Engineer and lecturer at Lehigh University, and Chief Engineer for both Bitronics, Inc. (instrumentation used in electric utilities) and Thor Power (advanced motor drives). Jim is presently a Design Engineer at HindlePower, Inc where he designs industrial battery chargers for electric utilities. He is a Professional Engineer and Senior Member of IEEE, IEEE Power & Energy Society, IEEE Power Electronics Society. Jim has also been involved with Formula Hybrid as a Technical Presentation Judge Team Leader. We are especially proud to say Jim is a MAREA member, and of course, very active with Engineers Without Borders.