CCEFP Student Organization, Known as Innovative Engineers, Receives International Recognition

Achievement date: 
2013
Outcome/accomplishment: 

A student organization, Innovative Engineers, which is supported by the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at the University of Minnesota, received international recognition for a wind-energy project in Nicaragua. The group's work is included in Sustainia100, a guide to the 100 top global solutions in sustainability, unveiled in June 2012 at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Impact/benefits: 

This recognition demonstrates the vast reach of ERC-supported educational activities, which train students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines that are beneficial to humans around the globe as well as to the world-wide environment

Explanation/Background: 

For more than three years, members of Innovative Engineers have been using their technical education to power developing communities with wind energy. The engineering students designed, constructed, and installed a wind turbine for the village of La Hermita, a half-hour ride up a dirt road from the city of Jinotega, Nicaragua. (See accompanying figure with Innovative Engineers member Andy Coldwell and friends from La Hermita, Nicaragua, showing off their new wind turbine, providing electricity for the first time, and good friends for life.) The turbine generates one kilowatt of electricity, enough to recharge the batteries used by La Hermita residents to power their lights at night and to operate their radios. Previously, villagers would travel to the nearest town by horseback to recharge batteries. The students of Innovative Engineers continue to teach the villagers about how the turbines work and how to repair them.