The IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee has awarded $60,000 to Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and Villanova University for “Expansion of a Community Intranet to share Sustainable Education Resources on the Galapagos Islands.” The grant—the second from IEEE in the past two years—will support the development of an intranet system (there is limited internet connectivity) to connect schools on Santa Cruz, the largest of the Galapagos Islands. Earlier this year, faculty and students from the two universities successfully implemented the system within schools on the island of San Cristóbal. This pilot project supports the country’s existing Education for Sustainability Initiative, which aims to educate more than 375 teachers on the principles of sustainable development.
“To date, we have had two teams of College of Engineering students working on this project in Ecuador,” says Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Dr. Pritpal Singh, who leads the initiative for Villanova. Traveling during winter and summer breaks, the teams connected all five schools on San Cristóbal with a WiFi network; set up servers to store information that can be updated or changed and shared; and presented workshops to teachers and students, providing a basic introduction to the intranet and its functionality, as well as other digital resources. This winter, a new team of Villanova Electrical and Computer Engineering students will visit the islands to work on this expanded implementation. “The ultimate goal of the initiative,” notes Dr. Singh, “is to connect all the inhabited islands of the Galapagos Archipelago.”
In addition to the intranet project, ESPOL and Villanova are collaborating on a solar energy project in Ecuador’s island community of Cerrito de Los Morreños, where the population of roughly 900 lives without access to the electrical grid. Over two visits, the teams have installed 20 new solar electric systems and delivered workshops to residents on electric circuits, system components and advice for saving energy. IEEE SIGHT (Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology) has provided nearly $8,000 in additional funding to rehabilitate 15 more homes over the next year—a project which a team of faculty and students will undertake in January 2020. That effort is led by Electrical Engineering graduate student Viviana Villavicencio in collaboration with Villanova Engineering Service Learning.