Students from Madison-Oneida BOCES are helping others a half a world away. Their senior projects will help the people living in a village in Uganda cook food, have clean water and electricity. All of the projects are solar powered. Our Iris St. Meran was at their engineering sustainability conference to see how it all worked.
VERONA, N.Y. -- The students from Madison-Oneida BOCES are heating up marshmallows. But this is not for a future camping trip or afternoon snack. They designed and created a number of solar powered devices.
"It's called a frenel lens solar cooker. This lens came out of a project TV," said student Ryan Thorna.
The students in Engineering Science, Carpentry and Auto Body Repair programs spent most of the school year coming up with designs for Solar Powered generators and solar cookers.
They partnered with the organization E4P, which helps needy African villages. They developed ways to help the people in one Ugandan village who have very little to do daily tasks like cook and have clean water. They used some recycled materials like wood others are fairly easy to obtain like tin and aluminum.
Kaliegh Larmer said, "Basically, the sun hits the smooth surface and underneath is grooved and it focuses the heat into one focal point and it very quickly, if it's sunny, can heat the water or whatever else is in front of it."
This solar generator can provide electricity to schools that rely on natural light.
"In their school they need light bulbs. So they can study and this can run a 60 watt incandescent light bulb fornine9 hours and that would translate to more like three or four fluorescent lights," said Tracy O’Hern.
Now that their senior projects are complete E4P will take some of the prototypes with them to Uganda, show the people there how they work so they can replicate them.
E4P Executive Director and Founder Pamela Mandsager said, "Something like this, they're using resources that they have easily available that they can purchase very cheaply and they can use their own manpower to create and mass produce for the community, which means it'll be used."
They figured out how to design something and make it work, but their instructor says it's a lesson not just in engineering but in humanity.
Professional engineer and Madison-Oneida BOCES Engineering instructor David Hale, said, "Students from our community come together from different backgrounds, work together for not just for helping each other, for helping people they never met halfway around the globe."
That lesson isn't found in a school book.
E4P, the organization assisting the Ugandan people, will take the prototypes over there in July.
To learn more about the organization or the students' projects, visit http://e4poverty.org and www.moboces.org.