IEEE Canadian Foundation

Learning Centre Grants, Special Grants and Scholarships

Special Grant - Guatemala Solar Installation

Linda Zhao, U. of Calgary SB Chair, positions panel during pre-installation testing

In 2017, IEEE Canadian Foundation awarded a one-time Special Grant to the University of Calgary IEEE Student Branch for partially funding of a Solar Energy Project in Guatemala. In February 2018, a group of 12 University of Calgary students and one faculty member traveled to the western highlands of that country as technical volunteers to install photovoltaic (PV) systems for a rural indigenous Mayan community.

Some of the participants (left to right): Ruo Huang, Linda Zhao, Wasiq Mahmood, William Ho, Justin Park, Kalvin Wu, Meiting Lei, *Myriam Zareipour, *Hamid Zareipour and Anis Ben Arfi.

Wasiq Mahmood, IEEE Southern Alberta SIGHT volunteer, draws smiles from local young helpers

In developing 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. This international project provided electricity access to an elementary school that has over 80 students and made a positive impact on the community.

This project was co-organized by students from the University of Calgary’s Light Up the World Club and the IEEE Student Branch. The trip was facilitated by professionals from Light Up The World (LUTW), a non-profit organization based in Calgary. The team started with an inspection and maintenance on existing PV systems installed six years ago by LUTW in the houses in the village of Tuicoyg, near Todo Santos. They subsequently installed PV Systems at an elementary school and at the community centre that was powered by the commercial diesel generator.

Aaron Cohen (chair), Alex Jahp (ladder) and Justin Park connect panel to electrical box

The work included all required wiring, conduits, switches, DC LED bulb sockets, AC receptacles and inverter connections. The school system is capable of lighting up to five classrooms, a storage room, and the administration office, and can also support educational electronic devices, e.g., laptops, tablets, etc. Through the range of project activities, students were given an opportunity to utilize their engineering skills to learn, design, install, and evaluate off-grid solar PV systems.

In addition to new technical skills, the students learned about the local culture, music, agriculture and lifestyle. Multiple students used a Spanish translations phone app to engage with villagers, holding longer conversation and making local friends. This project sparked the passion among the students for getting involved in the activities with the use of renewable energy and sustainable systems across the world.

"For the first time I feel okay with leaving and keeping the lights on,” quipped one volunteer.

The project was strongly supported by Southern Alberta Section and in particular by the section’s SIGHT group.

McNaughton Learning Resource Centre Grant Reports

Last year, IEEE Canadian Foundation awarded a grant to the McMaster University IEEE Student Branch for upgrading their McNaughton Learning Resource Centre (MLRC). The major goal of this project was to expand and improve the equipment in the MLRC, which would help students in their course work, experiential learning and workshop development. The SB Computer Chapter planned creating a new Raspberry Pi Workshop, and needed some of the equipment and materials (Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, peripherals, sensors, breadboards, etc.) to start the workshop.

Workshops now include other student groups

With the help of the MLRC Grant, the SB was able to run Raspberry Pi and Soldering workshops. This provided the student members with an opportunity to develop content for the workshops, teach and even generate some revenue to expand the activities.Through these events they built relations with other student groups and began to host collaborative events. The SB members from first to fourth year participated in planning events, leading workshops, and volunteering at the events. Through this they gained technical knowledge and experience in working as a team. Further plans include the newly founded SB EMBS Chapter’s Workshop on use of biosensors in the near future.

Teamwork solves many problems in McNaughton Learning Centres

In 2017, IEEE Canadian Foundation awarded a grant to the University of Victoria IEEE Student Branch for upgrading their McNaughton Learning Resource Centre (MLRC). The SB reported that they successfully upgraded it with a Controleo3 reflow oven conversion kit, which provided a reliable high-quality reflow soldering solution, and other smaller lab equipment and consumables.

Reflow oven assembly

The MLRC provides now a genuinely useful space for students to complete their course, club, and personal projects, with the equipment and tools that they would not otherwise have access to. In addition, the SB ran three successful skill development seminars on soldering techniques, use of microcontrollers, and holding effective meetings. The seminars were attended by a wide range of science and engineering students and were very well received due to their content and instruction quality. The financial support of the IEEE Canadian Foundation in this project is appreciated and it helped to further spread the word about IEEE and McNaughton Learning Resource Centre at the University of Victoria.

Supplies for microcontroller SkillDev workshops

IEEE Power & Energy Scholarship Plus Initiative

The IEEE Canadian Foundation supports in Canada the IEEE Power & Energy Scholarship Plus Initiative. The PES Scholarship Plus Initiative provides scholarships and real world experience to qualified undergraduates who are interested in power and energy engineering careers.

Applications are due June 30th. 

2017/2018 recipients are:
- Courtney Harnum, Memorial University, expected graduation in 2019
- Alexandre Poersch, University of Manitoba, expected graduation in 2019 
- Lukas Unruh, University of Manitoba, expected graduation in 2018 
- Yilin (Linda) Zhao, University of Calgary, expected graduation in 2018

The project's obvious benefit to the entire community reinforced students' appreciation of the potential impact of engineering teamwork. About 95 pupils attend the school, shown above. The village has about 500 inhabitants, with most families farming.

* Dr. Zareipour is a power and energy professor in the U. of Calgary's Electrical and Computer department. Myriam Zareipour is a student advisor in the department.

Light Up The World pioneered the use of WLED lighting for remote villages in the late ‘90s. Few technology professionals were even aware of its existence at the time. The story of how founder Dave Irvine-Halliday and his team proved out their concept in the mountains of Nepal was told in the IEEE Canadian Review , Fall 2000 issue.

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