News

Welcome to our news page. We will update this page frequently to update everyone on the progress our team is making.

Last update: 28 Sept 2013

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September 28, 2013

Some good news for this Fall day. Mou received 50 portable battery packs in South Sudan which have proved to be very popular. All profits from the loaning of the battery packs are being used to fund an adult education center started by Village Help for South Sudan and the Theou Village school. A short promotional video of Mou’s enterprise can be found at the following Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLwFDGfIy0w

In addition, Mou, Emmett, and Michael will all be attending the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) next month in San Jose, CA. Two years ago Michael and Mou traveled to Seattle for the inaugural IEEE GHTC, which is where the idea for SunGate Solar started. This time around Mou will be presenting on SunGate solar and Michael will be presenting on the topic of microgrids. It should be a interesting conference and a great reunion for Mou, Emmett, and Michael, since almost a year ago in Theou Village.

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May 27, 2013

A much needed update, the installation of the solar electric system has been completed at the Theou Village Freedom School! In fact it has been since January but school and other tasks have prevented a proper update on the news section. Since the last update all the travel documentation was settled thanks to Ron Moulton from Village Help for South Sudan. Then on December 28th, 2012 Ron, Michael, and Emmett left from Washington DC to finally travel to the Theou village in South Sudan to finish the installation of the system. The trip was an overall success and was an amazing experience for everyone. There were a few hiccups along the way but nothing too detrimental. A detailed journal was kept by Michael and posted on our new blog page. Pictures from the trip can be found on our Flikr photostream.

Since Michael and Emmett returned from the trip in mid-January 2013 they have continued their graduate studies. While Mou and Ron have continued to develop the SunGate solar business startup that Mou will be running in South Sudan. Mou has received much support from IEEE, other organizations, and especially from Ron in developing a business plan to help bring more solar energy to South Sudan. The business is still in development but updates will be posted periodically.

Thanks again to everyone for all the support throughout the years and the continued support to make this project into something bigger, a business that can help bring more electricity to South Sudan and so much more.

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November 4, 2012

A quick update, we added some more pictures to the Documentation page showing more photos from Theou village. Mou has been working hard and has done all that he can to get as much of the system set up. He was able to light one set of lights using old batteries that we used for our prototype system. He also got some help building the structure for the panels. Emmett and Michael are in the process of preparing for their trip out to South Sudan this coming January finally! Hopefully everything works out and we can all complete the system once and for all. We’ll keep you up to date with our travel plans. Enjoy the pictures!

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September 15, 2012

Great news!!! Another major milestone has been reached for the Engineering a Brighter Sudan project, the shipping container and all of its content arrived safely in Thiou Village. The following is a message from Mou:

Hello family, friends, and supporters of the USD solar power project,

I would like to inform you of the great milestone in our quest to bring solar power to the Thiou Village School in South Sudan. I received the container two days ago and I, along with many villagers, were busy all day yesterday emptying the container of all the materials and of course, the most exciting part – taking the 40 foot container out of the 22 wheeler truck without a crane! I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

The village, and very soon the whole region, is filled with excitement that I cannot capture in words. The site of the container was quite the scene yesterday, and now that the word has gone out about the arrival of electricity in Thiou village, it has quickly become one great tourist attraction.

With this milestone checked, we can surely say that we are 90 percent of the way to completing the project. I am planning on doing most of the preliminary installation before Emmett and Mike join me sometime in late December or early January to complete it all.

Many thanks to all your support and enjoy the pictures,

Mou

The pictures can be found HERE or on our documentation page under Equipment Arrival Pictures. Thanks again to all of our fantastic supporters!

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May 21, 2012

Hello all, it’s been a while since our last update because things happen much slower in South Sudan and Mou’s contact with us is limited. That said, now we have compiled a more thorough update. Currently all the equipment in en route to South Sudan. Check back soon (about 4-6 weeks) for a confirmation of the arrival of the equipment to Theou village. Mou’s time in South Sudan has been spent visiting family and friends, awaiting the equipment, and working on getting the School up and running. Also, Mou was just appointed the IEEE Community Solutions Initiative (CSI) South Sudan representative! They will help him start a business in South Sudan which will be responsible for setting up more solar electric systems for various communities. This is a great opportunity for him and we’re all excited about it.

As for the rest of us, Enrique and Michael are both working full time in the San Diego area. Emmett is finishing up his first year at UCSB as a graduate student and has been doing very well! In addition, Michael has decided to attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison, this coming Fall for graduate studies in electrical engineering, focusing on power electronics and renewable energy.

Lastly, our plans to travel to South Sudan to finish the installation are currently under review for a few reasons. Mou is particularly concerned about the escalating political tension between Sudan and South Sudan. Also, Mou will be in South Africa for training as the South Sudan IEEE CSI representative during July, which was our intended arrival. Nevertheless, we are fully committed and will find time to make the trip to Theou.

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January 5, 2012

Happy New Years! We hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday season. We have some great news about the project and team members. First, Mou and Michael have now joined Emmett and Enrique as USD Alumni! Mou has left to South Sudan to return back to his village Theou. We received an email from him the other day from Juba saying that he has arrived safely and will remain in contact via email. Michael will be traveling to El Salvador for 2 weeks in January but will remain working in San Diego as the primary contact for the project. All of the equipment for the project was loaded and picked up on December 22nd, compliments of Solar Turbines. With the gracious help of Solar Turbines, our equipment will be shipped over to South Sudan. The remainder of the shipping costs will be handled by Mou with the use of P-2’s donation. Mou anticipates the arrival of the equipment in the coming months and will be responsible for picking safely bringing it to Theou. The next steps include receiving the equipment and safely bringing it to the village, ensure that the equipment was not damaged, record any additional equipment needed, and purchase the flight tickets for the final installation!

The equipment packed and ready to ship

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November 6, 2011

Mou and Michael returned from the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference this past week and had a great experience. We met a lot of innovators and leaders in the field of humanitarian technology. We got to hear talks from leaders in academia, a UNESCO representative, and CEO’s or nonprofit and for-profit organizations. The field of humanitarian technology is much more prominent than expected. There was a call to promote this field of humanitarian technology further, particularly in academia, to cultivate leaders who can call attention to developing nations and communities. There was also many presentations given by graduate students and professionals about their humanitarian technology projects. One of the most interesting presentations was given by a group of graduate students from the University of Wisconsin – Madison on their project titled The Microformer. They recycled transformers from microwaves and used them to create high voltage transmission lines for rural communities. They also placed second in the IEEE Change the World Competition! We left the conference with new ideas and connections to others in this field and a renewed passion for humanitarian technology.

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August 16, 2011

A few months ago we submitted a paper to the IEEE Global Humanitarian Conference and we were informed today that our submission was accepted! The conference will bring together members of the engineering community, technology leaders from industries, academics, government agencies, NGOs, charities and others interested in how technology can be used to advance humanity. We are really excited to have the opportunity to attend such a great conference. Mou and Michael will be present at the conference to present the paper, unfortunately Emmett and Enrique are unable to make it.

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August 14, 2011

Greetings all! I just wanted to send an update on our progress over these summer months. Emmett has moved up to Santa Barbara to begin his graduate studies at UCSB. He was awarded the prestigious NSF fellowship and will pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, particularly in the area of solar panel efficiency. Enrique has been working full time at NuVasive, where he was an intern this past academic year. Michael and Mou have been at USD doing individual research projects sponsored by the McNair Scholars Program, in addition to their part time jobs.

On July 28th  Mou, Michael, and Emmett presented at USD for the University of the Third Age (U3A) as part of the lecture series. They were a joy to speak to and very enthusiastic about out story. Mou and Michael had the chance to participate in another solar installation with Grid Alternatives, as seen in the picture below. We have been working hard to finalize the shipping logistics and have made good progress. More news to come soon!

Mou Observing Panel Grounding

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June 9, 2011

Great news! We finished the fundraising for the project this afternoon! We met with a potential donor to talk to them about the project and demonstrate our prototype system and they were so impressed by the project and demonstration that they committed to fund the remaining deficit! We are so grateful to the USD development office who helped set up the meeting and take the project one step closer to completion. And, of course, we are very thankful to the donor who was willing to make such a generous donation. We are very excited to have met this milestone and are eager for the completion of this project.

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May 25, 2011

The end of April and May have been a very busy, but productive time for us. We successfully completed the First Phase of the project! This included implementing a small-scale prototype at USD. We demonstrated the prototype system on May 6th at the Spring Engineering Open House. In addition to this, a reporter from the San Diego Union Tribune wrote an article about our project which can be found here or on the Media Page.

A special thanks to Jinko Solar for donating 6 kW of solar panels that were delivered yesterday. This would not have been possible without the help of AM Solar. Thanks to both of them, we are now one step closer to completing the project!

During the summer, each of us will work toward completing the fundraising and finalizing the shipping and logistics.

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April 9, 2011

We had an amazing opportunity to present our project at the USD Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon. The event was organized to honor USD sponsors and recipients. Each year there is a featured department and this year the Engineering Department had the chance to share their accomplishments. Michael, along with another senior engineering student, Tiara Chapel, were selected by Department Chair Dr. Kathleen Kramer to share their student insights to the attendees. An article about the event can be found on USD’s News Center here. Because each team member in “Engineering a Brighter Sudan” is a recipient of at least one scholarship, our accomplishments and this project would not have been possible without their support. So we would like to thank all the USD scholarship sponsors for what they enable us to do. Their support has allowed us to take on this exciting project and allow us to bring USD Engineering to the global community.

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March 30, 2011

Sorry for the delayed update, we had a formal report, demonstration, and presentation for the Senior Design class. The Critical Design Report (CDR) and CDR presentation can now be found on our documentation page.

During our Spring Break we had the opportunity to participate in our first installation with GRID Alternatives. Mou, Michael, and Emmett were split up into the electrical, ground, and roof team, respectively, and had the opportunity to get first hand experience in a solar installation. We hope to participate in more installations if time permits so we can each have a turn at each of the 3 teams. Below is a picture of Mou familiarizing himself with a conduit bending tool.

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March 10, 2011

We aired on NBC San Diego last night at 4:30 PM and 6:00PM! Follow this link to read the article about, and click here to see the video segment. We’re really excited about this opportunity and hope that it’s just the beginning.

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March 9, 2011

Our ability to travel to Sudan this summer is less certain due to travel logistics and increased political unrest. It is still a possibility and we are monitoring the situation closely on a day-to-day basis. If we are unable to install the system this summer, we will complete the project during the summer of 2012.

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February 28, 2011

Great news! We have been in contact with OutBack Power for sometime now and told them about our project. We mentioned that we chose to use OutBack’s products because we had heard that they were the best on the market, especially for off grid applications. Last Friday we were notified that they would be donating a FLEXpower TWO system. This module accommodates all of the essential protective devices in an easy-to-install, fully pre-wired and factory tested dual inverter system. This product is a major component to our system and responsible for providing the AC power needed for the lights and laptops. Thank you OutBack Power!

Also, stay tuned for more news about a recent interview by San Diego NBC and a potential supporter for our battery system.

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February 20, 2011

We have added to the “Support Theou” page. You are now able to donate to the project through the University of San Diego’s Giving page. All donations are still tax-deductible and are monitored by us and the engineering staff. A special thanks to all of our supporters thus far!

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February 19, 2011

This week was busy with important meetings. We met with a Public Relations representative from AM Solar who wants to make our project more recognizable in the community and hopefully on a national scale as well. We are excited to see what will happen in the coming months. We had the privilege to meet with the President of USD, Mary Lyons. It was a great opportunity to share our story with her. She seemed very enthused about the project and hopes to help out. Lastly, we made a trip up to the P-2 Lighting factory to meet with the people who have been helping us. It was great to finally meet everyone in person and share more about where we are in the project and how much P-2 has done to make our project move along.

In other news, we added a Media Page! This page will host articles written about the project and pictures related to our project. Our  newest article is written by Mariana Moncada from the Sunnynation blog. Mariana is an architect who enjoys learning about and working on solar energy projects. She has been very helpful connecting us with GRID Alternatives, which will allow us to get some very necessary experience.

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February 10, 2011

We have added a “Progress Summary” to our Documentation page. This should help give people an idea of what we have accomplished in the project so far and what still needs to be done.

Also, we added all of our resumes to the documentation page.

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February 8, 2011

We just wanted to let everyone know that we just finished our training orientation for GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering communities in need by providing renewable energy, energy efficiency services, equipment, and training. Now that we have finished the orientation, we can all begin volunteering with local solar installations. Check out GRID Alternative’s website for more information.

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February 1, 2011

Hello everyone. Sorry for the delayed news update, we all just back to school to start the Spring Semester last week. Over winter break, we contacted more companies looking for support. We are primarily concerned with finding a company that will support us for the battery bank. We also contacted a representative from GRID Alternatives to help us volunteer for solar installations in the San Diego area. This will give us crucial solar installation experience and hopefully some more contacts. We also submitted our project to the IEEE President’s Change the World Competition. It is a worldwide competition that recognizes students who develop unique solutions to real-world problems using engineering, science, computing, and leadership skills that benefit their community, the world at large, or both. The grand prize is $10,000! Also in January, Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede and become an independent country. So far the political situation is looking good because of the involvement of outside nations. We are optimistic for the future of Southern Sudan and hope for a smooth transition. Last night we presented our project poster at the California Center for Sustainability for an American Chemical Society (ACS) conference on solar technologies. There was a speaker from UCSD that spoke about Lithium ion battery technology and a workshop on how to make your own solar cell. It was great publicity for us and we got to talk to some interesting folks.

Now we are at the second stage of our project. We have analysis for the system size, lighting distribution, solar mounting structure, and raised half the funds. Now we will focus on creating a diagnostics system that can communicate the energy system’s functionality to the Theou community and make sure the system is safe and reliable. We are also working hard to find support for the battery bank and to raise the remaining funds.

A special thanks to everyone who has supported us thus far!

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December 20, 2010

We are all finally done with our final exams! Now we have time to regroup and reorganize the project. We have added our Preliminary Design Review and our Project Poster to the documentation page. We have also updated the project details. We have more updates and news to add very soon. Travel safe.

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December 5, 2010

We updated the background of the web page to include all of the current sponsors. At this moment, support for the project totals approximately $24,300!

This coming Wednesday, December 8th, the University of San Diego will release its newly designed website. In late October, we were contacted by Public Affairs at USD and were offered the opportunity to get an article published about our project. This article will be one of the feature stories on USD’s new homepage. We are excited to get such great publicity, we never thought that the article would go this far. We want to thank Public Affairs for all the hard work that was put into the article, primarily Kelly Machleit who worked closely with us throughout the entire process.

As the Fall Semester comes to end for us, there is a lot of work we have to complete for the Senior Design class. We are currently working on a project poster, a Preliminary Design Review, and a demonstration of the scaled system. We will be sure to post all of these on the website upon their completion. While the deadlines increase stress levels and decrease the number of hours slept, they keep us focused and assure that the design continues to move forward.

Since the completion of our proposal, we have talked to numerous professionals who have experience in engineering, solar technologies, and off grid energy systems. We would like to acknowledge Kim Silva of Hardy Solar, Ray Pustinger of Precision Paragon (P-2) Lighting, and Ryan Labrum of AM Solar for advising us about our system design. We have learned a lot and have updated the system design to reflect this knowledge. We are currently working to finalize the size of the solar panel array, battery bank, and wiring.

Also, with the extraordinarily generous offer from P-2 Lighting, we have decided to add an inverter to our system, which converts the Direct Current (DC) power from the battery bank to Alternating Current (AC). The addition of the inverter is beneficial to our system because it will allow us to use the energy-efficient lights provided by P-2 and will allow the community to use standard electrical devices. We will also be including hardware that will monitor the system to ensure its longevity. All design changes will be found in the Preliminary Design Report and reflected in the Project Details page upon completion.

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December 2, 2010

The semester is winding down and a lot progress has been made recently. After contacting several lighting companies we heard back from Precision Paragon (P-2) Lighting. P-2 was very excited to hear about our project and offered full support for all the lighting required for the project. We got a letter of intent from them which can be found in the Documentation section. Their help has been crucial for the lighting analysis. We are really excited to add such a great sponsor to our list of supporters!

More News updates will be added this weekend.

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November 22, 2010

Today we picked up 3 solar panels, a charge controller, and a battery from AM Solar! Now we finally have some equipment to work with and start gaining familiarity with the system. We are all looking forward to getting some hands on experience when we return from Thanksgiving break. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

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November 17, 2010

Yesterday was USD’s “Toreros Running on Sunshine” event where the completion of the 1.2 Mega-Watt photovoltaic system was celebrated. AM Solar was responsible for installing nearly 5,000 solar panels on various rooftops throughout campus. Our senior project team was invited on the VIP tour yesterday. We had the chance to go on the roof of the International Peace and Justice (IPJ) building on campus to see the solar panels. We also had the chance to talk with representatives from AM Solar, USD Sustainability, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), several California government representatives, and many other of the key people who were involved in bringing solar energy to USD. There were a lot of cameras while we were on the VIP tour and had some photos taken of us for a USD Magazine article that will feature our project. Today we found our that we were actually on the local news channel too for a split second! You can see the featured news story about the event here (we can be seen at 31 seconds):

http://www.10news.com/video/25820022/index.html

We were also lucky enough to be mentioned by the president of USD, Mary E. Lyons Ph.D., and CEO of AM Solar in their speeches. So we got a lot of great publicity for our project! Later that day we had a table on campus and sold a bunch of shirts. Half of the profits from the shirt sales will go toward the school and half will go toward our project.

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November 12, 2010

More good news! Today we received a grant from the Associated Students of the University of San Diego. We were offered a total of $1,514 of reimbursement for the development of the USD Proof of Concept. This support will allow us to start purchasing all the components for the on-campus demonstration. We are very excited to have the support of the Associated Students!

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November 11, 2010

Today we met with the VP of System Design from AM Solar, Ryan Labrum. We finally had the chance to sit down and discuss our technical design with  someone experience in solar design. He helped clarify a few items that our team was still unclear on. Now we can move forward with our design and start ordering some parts.

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November 6, 2010

Today we attended the IEEE PES (Power and Energy Society) Photovoltaic Design Seminar at the LA Department of Water and Power. We learned a lot about the power industry and photovoltaic system design. We also had the chance to talk to a lot of people about our project. We had the chance to talk to representatives from two different battery storage companies and a wiring company, each specific to photovoltaic systems.

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November 3, 2010

More good news! We gave a presentation to the Executive Committee of the San Diego IEEE Section. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the largest technical society in the world. It is a non-profit technical professional association of more than  377,000 individual members in 150 different countries. Visit www.ieee.org for more information. The Executive Committee seemed very interested in our project. As technical professionals, they offer the kind of experience that we need to recognize any potential issues with our design. We were offered $1,500 of reimbursement to complete our first phase of the project, the on-campus demonstration. We are glad to have the support of IEEE for our project!

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November 2, 2010

Great News! Today we met with AM Solar to tell them about our project and ask for any support. AM Solar will install 5,000 photovoltaic panels throughout the USD campus that will account for 15% of USD’s power needs through a 1.23-megawatt renewable energy system. The project is near completion. AM Solar was also chosen by the San Diego Unified School District for a 5.2-megawatt solar project. For more information, please visit their website at  < www.amsolarcorp.com >. We met with the CEO, Josh  Weinstein, and the COO, Marika Landau-Wells. They were really excited to hear about the project and offered their support financially and through mentoring. AM Solar offered us a matching grant for any funds raised through USD. So every dollar donated through USD is worth two! We are very excited to have the support and cooperation of AM Solar for our project.

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November 1, 2010

Our website is finally up and running. For the first post we will provide some key dates on what has happened so far.

  • Tuesday, September 9: Project Approved by USD Engineering department
  • Thursday, October 14: Written Proposal Submitted to Engineering Faculty
  • Tuesday, October 19: Oral Presentation Engineering Faculty, students, and invited guests

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