27 Apr

Southern Albertans powered up schools in Guatemala using Solar PV

Linda Zhao, IEEE Southern Alberta SB chair, Rafae Malik Southern Alberta PES SB Chair and Anis Ben Arfi IEEE Southern Alberta SIGHT chair.

In several undeveloped countries, children are required to work or do chores before and after school that leaves them with no choice but to study at night by the dim light. The lack of electricity forces the families to use a significant part of their income to buy candles or to run kerosene lamps. Hence, Light Up The World (LUTW), a non-profit organization, equips the less the privileged families in the undeveloped parts of the world with Solar Systems to generate electricity for lights and charging communication devices.

LUTW organized a trip to Guatemala during the February 2018 reading break in which twelve students and a faculty member from the Schulich School of Engineering participated as technical volunteers. The organization has been working with rural indigenous Mayan communities in the Western Highlands of Guatemala since 2006 and facilitating student trips to the region.

The team started with evaluating the existing photovoltaic (PV) systems installed by LUTW in the houses located in the village near Todo Santos, in Northern Guatemala. Some of the PV Systems were installed 6-year-ago and still powering the homes efficiently. However, some of the installations required maintenance and upgrades to the panels and batteries. The following 4 days were dedicated to installing PV System at an elementary school and the community center.

The team installed 40 LED bulbs (DC load) across the school that lights up 5 classrooms, a storage room, and the administration office. LUTW team along with the volunteers from the University of Calgary installed all the required wiring, conduits, switches and Inverter connections. Moreover, the AC receptacles were also installed in the classrooms that have now opened the possibilities of utilizing educational electronic devices such as laptop or iPads in future.

The team also helped with installing the solar system for the community center that was currently being powered by the commercial diesel generator. Once the system was commissioned, all the lights and the receptacles worked as expected and no troubleshooting was needed.

This trip allowed all the volunteers to reflect and realize all the facilities that we might take as granted in North America. Such realization sparked the passion within the students to get involved with the activities that would encourage the use of renewable and sustainable systems across the world.

One of the fun facts about this trip is that a student shared his pedometer reading at the end of the day. The pedometer showed 6 KM of walking and 30 floors climbed that was based on climbing the ladder for wires installation. Another volunteer mentioned after finishing the installation at the school: ” For the first time, I feel okay with leaving and keeping the lights on.

In addition to the learning technical skills, students learned about the culture in northern Guatemala of the Mam tribes, the music, the agriculture and the lifestyle. In fact, multiple students used a Spanish translations phone apps to hold a long conversation and made several local friends.

The group also had the chance to visit a coffee farm, during the harvesting season and learn about the coffee production process. They also stayed in Antigua, Guatemala and discovered the traditional city and the beauty of the landscapes.

This experience was very beneficial for the team, helping them realize the value of engineers working in a team, leveraging the knowledge they acquired for the benefit of the underserved communities.

This trip was possible with generous donations from AltaLink, Schulich Students Activities Fund, Shell Experiential Energy Learning, Student Union Travel and Conference Funding, IEEE Southern Alberta Section, IEEE Canadian Foundation Special Grant and University of Calgary IDEAS Fund.  The student team would like to thank Light Up The World an, in particular, Christopher Schulz, Alex Jahp and Jean-Claude Fouere for their advice and professionalism, and for providing all the necessary means to make this project a success. The team also are grateful to Dr. Hamid Zareipour for his help during the installations and for agreeing to the squire and manage the student team tirelessly during the trip.

27 Apr

IEEE Vancouver Young Professionals – First Quarter in review 2018

Ana Laura Gonzalez Rios

IEEE Vancouver Young Professionals, an energetic group of talented people, kicked-off the year collaborating with the organizing committee of Think Engineering 2018, an annual networking event organized by the IEEE Student Branches at UBC, SFU and BCIT in conjunction with the UBC ECE Student Society. In preparation for this annual networking, Young Professionals, along with Women in Engineering, presented the topic How to network and approach industry representatives. With the main goal of empower undergraduates, from freshmen to seniors, Ana Laura Gonzalez Rios (IEEE Vancouver YP Chair) and Selyn Chen (IEEE Vancouver WIE Chair) shared the importance of networking and 10 essential principles, how to know themselves using metacognitive strategies, how to know and approach industry representatives, and the advantage of envisioning themselves as a company. The Affinity Groups also invited all the attendees to become IEEE YP and WIE volunteers by setting up a booth during the event.

Think Engineering Workshop on Networking. Organizers: Abigail Climacosa and Nicole Cheang. IEEE Speakers: Ana L. Gonzalez and Selyn Chen

Towards the end of January, Young Professionals partnered with SNC Lavalin to organize a meaningful workshop about Discrimination in the Workplace. During this workshop, a study case was presented, and a panel of 5 HR experts and leading female engineers commented on the actions and initiatives developed by companies to decrease the discrimination in the workplace, especially that affecting gender inclusion. Led by Sean Garrity (IEEE Vancouver Past-Chair), this workshop provided relevant insights on the importance of creating strong corporate policies to alleviate discrimination at different corporate levels, as well as the relevance of ingraining confidence, respect, and tolerance among the new generations.

Discrimination in the Workplace Workshop. Moderator: Sean Garrity. Panelists: Andrea Casson, Roopa Somayji, Karen Lewis, Yasamin Houshmand, and Andrea Arduini

In an effort to bring IEEE and local industry closer, Young Professionals co-hosted the annual IEEE YP-WIE Networking event at Sierra Wireless on March 6th. During this event, over 20 attendees had the opportunity to learn more about this Vancouver-born, IoT pioneer company. From its presence worldwide, and different fields and applications that are taking advantage of its developments, to its corporate culture, the audience was able to better know this prominent wireless designer and manufacturer that is “… empowering business and industries to transform and thrive in the connected economy.” The networking event closed with a tour to the facility, showcasing its research and test laboratories, office spaces, and support center to the attendance.

IEEE YP-WIE Annual Networking @ Sierra Wireless. Speakers: Stefan Hockley, Ana L. Gonzalez, Selyn Chen, and Leanne Jhonson

In addition to these networking, community building, and professional development events, Young Professionals co-hosted the first workshop of the Blockchain Series on March 15th alongside Women in Engineering and the IEEE Special Interest Group on Blockchain. With the content designed by Chelsea Palmer, this was an introductory workshop to the blockchain computing platform and operating system, Ethereum, and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. At the end of the event, Chelsea Palmer presented the IEEE Blockchain initiative, she also explained its relevance and impact in this world’s leading software platform for digital assets.

Blockchain Series Workshop #1. From top to bottom: Taylor Singleton-Fookes, Alex Salkeld, Chelsea Palmer, IEEE Region 7 Committee

All in all, IEEE Vancouver Young Professionals had developed and is continuously planning impact events to achieve its mandate of “helping young professionals evaluate their career goals, polish their professional image, and create the building blocks of a lifelong and diverse professional network,” being the 2018 Pacific Northwestern (PNW) YP Conference its biggest event. On August 4th, this will be the 2nd annual cross-section event between Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria Sections, which final purpose is “to expand borders for PNW Young Professionals and foster growth with relevant activities and discussions to Inspire, Enable, Empower, and Engage YPs.”

 Keep posted for further details on the 2018 PNW YP Conference or contact us to participate as a speaker, sponsor or content organizer at YPVancouver@ieee.org!