College of Engineering and Villanova School of Business (VSB) faculty are undertaking an innovative entrepreneurial project that will foster the development of energy and clean-water technologies in the Philippines’ Ifugao Province.
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) has awarded a $49,000 Sustainable Vision Grant to Dr. Pritpal Singh, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mr. Jordan Ermilio BSME ’98, MSWRE ’06, the College’s Special Projects Coordinator; and VSB’s Dr. James Klingler, Academic Director of the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Initiative (ICE-SIG). Because of this funding, engineering and business students will have opportunities to work with entrepreneurs in Ifugao to design low-cost, sustainable solutions for the region. This collaboration will empower local innovators, stimulate Ifugao’s economy, and improve the quality of life for local residents.
“Students will use their education to interact with local entrepreneurs to solve critical problems and benefit others,” Dr. Singh said. “The people of Ifugao will gain the outside perspective of Villanova students and faculty to assist in the development of new technologies and sustainable enterprises.”
Fundamental to this project is the ingenuity of the local people. “We’re not importing our solutions to address problems in a developing country,” said Mr. Ermilio, who worked in Ifugao as a Peace Corps volunteer. “We’re working with local innovators to draw out appropriate solutions to local problems while providing engineering and business services to help improve local technology.”
Ifugao has one of the world’s largest manmade irrigation systems, which has allowed farmers to cultivate rice terraces in mountainous terrain. In 1995, UNESCO included the terraces on its World Heritage List. However, lack of economic opportunity has forced young people to abandon farming and seek urban jobs. UNESCO now classifies the deteriorating terraces as a World Heritage in Danger. Villanova will coordinate its efforts with the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo), an organization dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating the terraces.