In the College of Engineering, students learn to see the value of applying their skills to benefit the greater good. In the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, this commitment can be seen in the growing collaboration between ECE faculty and students and WE CARE Solar, an organization dedicated to reducing maternal mortality rates in developing countries by providing solar power-based reliable electricity, mobile communication, and blood bank refrigeration to hospital workers.
"WE CARE Solar saves lives around the world by harnessing the potential of solar power. We are thrilled to work alongside its founders, Dr. Laura Stachel and Dr. Hal Aronson, to help develop new solar-based health solutions to further improve patient care in poorer countries," says Dr. Pritpal Singh, Chair of the ECE department.
Dr. Singh met Dr. Stachel at the 2009 “Humanitarian Technology Challenge Conference,” sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, where she presented her Solar Suitcase for meeting the needs of a rural health clinic in Northern Nigeria. The Solar Suitcase is a portable photovoltaic system that powers lighting for treatments and surgeries, mobile communications for hospital staff, blood bank refrigeration units, and existing hospital equipment. Moved by the dedication Dr. Stachel brings to her work, and impressed by the human impact the invention has made on hundreds of people around the world, Dr. Singh brought Dr. Stachel to campus in March for a presentation co-sponsored by the ECE department and the College of Nursing.
In April, the College welcomed Drs. Stachel and Aronson back to campus to launch a new phase of collaboration. Now, ECE students and faculty will work on designing medical equipment to complement the Solar Suitcase, such as solar power-based sterile autoclaves and oxygen delivery systems. They will also begin design investigations around the next generation of the Solar Suitcase, to further enhance its functionality.