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October 05, 2010
Three Howard R. Hughes, College of Engineering students, Wali Zaidi, Sammy Zaidi, and Christopher Belcher, have taken 1st place in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Humanitarian Technology Challenge. The topic this year was, “Reliable Electric Power for Developing Countries.” The event was a combined effort of IEEE & the United Nations Foundation in which fifty international student teams participated, and only three made it to the finals. The UNLV team submitted their project entitled, “Implementation of Modular Photovoltaic Systems for Off-grid Locations.”
The purpose of the competition was to design a cost-effective, electric power system that could meet the energy needs of small, off-grid communities in developing nations. After careful analysis, the team chose Pakistan for their experiment. With over half of its current population lacking affordable, reliable, accessible energy, and its abundance of year-round solar radiation, Pakistan was a great option for this solar energy pilot project.
The UNLV team submitted an incredibly comprehensive project. In addition to the engineering theory and design, they covered manufacturing and economic details and worked closely with suppliers for the project. The innovative development of a manual tracking system for capturing maximum sunlight makes their solar power system cost effective. The student’s thorough methodology assures that it can easily be adapted and applied to similar situations in other developing nations. In this sense their project is truly a modular and globally applicable power source.
The team attended the IEEE Region 6 EXCOM Meeting September 24-25 in Salt Lake City, Utah, for presentation of a $5,000 (USD) cash award. Both the recognition and the prize money will greatly assist these students as they move forward in their efforts to patent and implement this product. Wali, an Electrical Engineering Student Ambassador, cannot overstate the significant role that the classes of Professors Boehm and Baghzouz, played in their success in this competition. He says, “Thank you very much for putting together a great solar program at our college. I’m sure with the Solar Energy Utilization and Photo Voltaic classes we took over here we are better prepared than other students for the topic.”
Congratulations to the students.
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