Carnegie Mellon Engineering Student Volunteers To Make Remote India School More Sustainable

Carnegie Mellon University

Three Carnegie Mellon University engineering students will travel more than  14,000 miles roundtrip this summer to put solar panels on a grade school in northern India.

“This is a wonderful experience for all of us, as we work to introduce a more sustainable energy source for a grade school in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, India,’’ said Eva Humphrey, a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering from Asheville, N.C.

Humphrey and a team of CMU scholars from the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-CMU) and two students, including Tejank Shah, a sophomore double majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science from Parlin, N.J.; Michelle Krynock, a freshman in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Vandergrift, PA. and professional mentors Joshua Jedlicka and Uzair (Sam) Shamsi, a former Rampur, India resident, depart May 17 to develop sustainable energy for an impoverished region in one of the world’s most populous nations.

Jedlicka, a professional mentor with the EWB-CMU and an environmental engineer with Pittsburgh-based CDM Smith, said the project will ensure reliable use of lights, fans and computers. At present, more than 300 children in grades K-5 in Rampur endure poor lighting and humid study conditions with an inefficient diesel generator and an unpredictable power grid.

Shamsi, a professional mentor with the EWB-CMU and a Technical Manager with Pittsburgh-based Michael Baker Corporation, said EWB projects benefit both the students and the professionals. EWB student chapters acquire the determination to create a better world through engineering while developing their own career skills in engineering. Professionals gain a sense of accomplishment helping needy people or communities which is much more profound than the rewards of compensated employment.

The trip is part of a five-year project begun in 2010 by the chapter. Motivated Carnegie Mellon students take on various responsibilities in this multi-faceted project, such as technical design and fundraising. Tejank serves as the project lead, managing the project operations ever since its inception. In addition, Karen Yu, a Masters student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, has secured funding through grants and sponsorships with US-based companies, Boeing and Caterpillar. Sophie Grodsinksy, a junior in Civil and Environmental Engineering, has provided background advice and support as EWB-CMU president. Through the combination of skills and motivations from multiple students, the EWB-CMU chapter continues to push this India-based project forward.

“The EWB-CMU team also sees this trip as a way to help the entire Rampur community promote a new energy source as well as improving the community’s skills to maintain and build other similar energy systems,’’ said Avesh Singh, a sophomore in computer science and economics and VP of Public Relations for EWB-CMU.

The CMU team is one of more than a dozen collegiate EWB chapters fueling community improvement this year from the steamy jungles of Africa to the bucolic tundras of India and Asia. EWB USA supports community-driven development programs worldwide through the design and implementation of sustainable engineering projects and the fostering of responsible leadership.

“It is simply amazing what these students are doing and how their work will impact both the Rampur grade school and the students,” Kurt Larsen, assistant dean for undergraduate studies at CMU’s College of Engineering. “We have a service learning tradition at CMU and this project has truly made this learning experience both global and borderless.”

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