This summer, nine students from the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) will be getting some hands-on experience in just how much of a difference green technology can make in the lives of those in the developing world.
The students, all of whom are enrolled in OIT’s Renewable Energy Engineering program, will be accompanying OIT associate professor Slobodan Petrovic to the African country of Tanzania with the mission of installing 25 solar photovoltaic panels (donated by a German company, TUV Rheinland) in worthy locations such as schools and clinics. (Schools are the first priority, with the requirement that they are least 10 kilometers from a grid-tied electrical connection, serve at least 200 students and demonstrate they can maintain and protect the systems.) These solar electric systems, designed by the OIT students and installed in conjunction with local technicians, will allow locals to charge batteries, computers and cell phones.
Noting that 80% of the country currently functions without electricity, Petrovic believes that electricity can be a great equalizer. “The ability to read at night, listen to a radio, or watch a movie,” said Petrovic, via The Oregonian, “…or to communicate with friends and relatives through the use of cellular phone technology, are the forces of change that are enabling the integration of these segments of the population with the rest of the world.”