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ECE Professor Commits to Humanitarian Work

by Griffin Davis ’23 EE

Dr. Singh delivers a workshop at Universidad Mesoamericana in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Dr. Singh delivers a workshop at Universidad Mesoamericana in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

Dr. Pritpal “Pali” Singh, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has spent years encouraging the use of renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels. He has focused most of his efforts, and those of his students, on designing sustainable solutions for underserved communities. Most recently, his work has taken him to Central America where he’s conducted workshops, presented solar energy ideas and engaged in discussions around sustainable technologies.

In late February, Dr. Singh’s travels began with a visit to Costa Rica where he and graduate student Viviana Villavicencio presented at the Latin American Electron Devices Society Conference. The topic was improving confidence in the solar disinfection of water, which has been successfully advanced through the work of Villanova Engineering graduate students in Electrical and Sustainable Engineering. He also he presented an invited talk, “Research and Development Opportunities in Solar Electric Systems” and delivered a workshop on the topic of humanitarian engineering at this conference.

Children celebrate the opening of their new computer lab.
Children celebrate the opening of their new computer lab.

Dr. Singh’s next stop was Guatemala, where, through a collaboration with Catholic Relief Services and as a member of the IEEE SIGHT Steering committee (Special Interest Group in Humanitarian Technology), he presented related workshops to students and professors from Universidad Meso Americana and Universidad San Carlos where he discussed project development and how to write a SIGHT project proposal. Building on workshops that he and his students had given on computer science and humanitarian technology at Landivar University, a new IEEE SIGHT group in Quetzaltenango was formed by Catholic Relief Services and Landivar University personnel. This led to a funded SIGHT project to implement a computer lab at a local school. Dr. Singh’s week culminated in being honored at an inauguration ceremony for the new computer lab.

Dr. Singh was honored at an inauguration ceremony for the computer lab at the Santa Maria Chiquimula School in Totonicapan, Guatemala.
Dr. Singh was honored at an inauguration ceremony for the computer lab at the Santa Maria Chiquimula School in Totonicapan, Guatemala.

After a brief return home, on March 11, Dr. Singh made another humanitarian visit, this time to Puebla, Mexico, where he met with Dr. Musi Lopez, a professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana with whom he is writing a new grant proposal for a collaborative project. While in Mexico, he visited Casa Ibero, an urban area in which the Universidad runs outreach programs. He also traveled to a rural community where students spend months working with the residents on sustainable technologies. Because he was not allowed back on campus because of the coronavirus situation, Dr. Singh presented two Skype workshops from his hotel room to engineering and design program students at the Universidad.

Today, Dr. Singh is eager to return to these underserved communities where he and his students have been engaged in implementing technology solutions. He currently has an IEEE-funded project in the Galapagos Islands and a Kenyan project for which he is looking for funding. Catholic Relief Services has also supported a variety of Dr. Singh’s projects.

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