Villanova Professor Pritpal Singh, PhD, has made a career of improving the lives of others through humanitarian engineering, from bringing health care access to communities in Nicaragua to connecting schools to educational resources via an intranet in the Galapagos.
Now, thanks to two major awards received just weeks apart in March—a Fulbright fellowship and a National Science Foundation grant—the professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering will expand these efforts in the U.S. and abroad.
The Fulbright Scholar award will enable Dr. Singh to spend three months in Ecuador, where he will build on his partnership with the university Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL). During the fellowship, which will take place in spring 2023, Dr. Singh will teach a course at ESPOL on how to implement and commercialize sustainability-focused technologies, while he also researches the potential of renewable energy on the Galapagos Islands. Since 2018, Dr. Singh has worked with ESPOL researchers on a number of projects, including solar electric systems in the Gulf of Guayaquil as well as digital literacy workshops for teachers in response to COVID-19.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to spend an extended period there working with the professors,” says Dr. Singh, who is also director of Villanova’s Sustainable Energy Research Lab. “We’ve been collaborating, but it’s mostly been remotely or periodic visits there. That doesn’t give me a chance to establish a closer connection.”
Dr. Singh’s second award, a $12,777 NSF grant, will fund an Electricity Access Educators Workshop. Co-planned with Dr. Henry Louie, a colleague from Seattle University, the workshop will empower professors nationwide to introduce humanitarian projects into their engineering curricula, with a focus on bringing electricity to underserved communities. The event is scheduled for June 24-25 in Minneapolis, in the leadup to the annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education.
Dr. Singh says he’s grateful for these recognitions, and for the chance to assist communities using electrical and computer engineering technologies. “I just want to see people who are in underserved conditions, and who haven’t had the privileges and opportunities that I’ve had, have better quality of life,” he says. “That’s what drives me there.”