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Villanova Engineering Students Advance Projects in Ecuador

In San Cristobal in the Galapagos, Computer Engineering seniors (under ESPOL banner) Sarah Chen, Lauren Henderson, Karol Pierre, Gabriella Orellano (ESPOL student) and Gibel Sowe developed a community intranet to connect five of the island’s schools and taught teachers and students (as seen with certificates) how to use the system.
In San Cristobal in the Galapagos, Computer Engineering seniors (under ESPOL banner) Sarah Chen, Lauren Henderson, Karol Pierre, Gabriella Orellano (ESPOL student) and Gibel Sowe developed a community intranet to connect five of the island’s schools and taught teachers and students (as seen with certificates) how to use the system.

In October 2018, Villanova’s College of Engineering reported that the IEEE had awarded funding to two of its projects in Ecuador. The IEEE SIGHT (Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology) Projects Committee offered $18,000 to support the rehabilitation of solar home systems in the island community of Cerrito de Los Morreños, and the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee awarded $53,000 for a community intranet to share sustainable education resources among schools on the Island of San Cristobal. Both projects are under the direction of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Dr. Pritpal Singh, who led two teams of students to the country over winter break, where—together with faculty and students from Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL)—they made substantial progress on each initiative.

In Cerritos, students delivered a two-day workshop to 15–20 members of the small community of less than a thousand residents. The first day was a basic introduction to electric circuits, components of a solar electric system and how to use related equipment. On the second day, community members assisted in installing one of the systems, and over the remainder of the week, four additional systems were implemented and tested. Students also surveyed other homes in the community to determine needs. Working with Villanova seniors Doug Hauser EE, John Rechichi CpE, John Timon EE, and Daniel Fetsko CE on the Cerritos project were Javier Urquizo, an electrical engineering PhD student, and Cristina Benzo, a graduate student in the Sustainable Engineering program. 

Students on the Cerritos team—Doug Hauser ’19 EE, John Rechichi ’19 CpE, Daniel Fetsko ’19 CE and John Timon ’19 EE—helped install solar electric systems and teach community members how to maintain them.
Students on the Cerritos team—Doug Hauser ’19 EE, John Rechichi ’19 CpE, Daniel Fetsko ’19 CE and John Timon ’19 EE—helped install solar electric systems and teach community members how to maintain them.

On the Island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos, where limited internet service is available, a team of four Villanova Computer Engineering seniors— Lauren Henderson, Gibel Sowe, Karol Pierre and Sarah Chen—developed a community intranet to connect five of the island’s schools. Through their senior design project, the women set up servers to store information that could be updated or changed and shared. As a private company, iPhotonCorp, working in collaboration with Elec Galapagos (the local utility) installed an optical fiber network, the students presented three afternoons of workshops to about 20 teachers and students, providing a basic introduction to the intranet and its functionality, as well as other digital resources. The student team also refurbished 10 computers at one of the schools, and donated five more to another school, which Villanova University provided.

“The students did such a good job on both projects and really represented Villanova very well,” says Dr. Singh. “They were very motivated, very enthusiastic. I just can’t say enough good things about them. It was a very successful trip.” Dr. Singh also applauded the efforts of Urquizo, who came to Villanova from ESPOL, and served as Dr. Singh’s right hand man throughout both parts of the trip.

Dr. Singh and a new team of students will return to Ecuador in June 2019. In San Cristobal they will install additional computers and solar panels to power a lab in one of the schools, and in Cerritos they will add approximately 35 additional solar systems in the community and conduct additional workshops to community members in both locations.

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