Success in December
On December 18th, a team of five IIT students, one student from UIC, one student from UC-Boulder, and two awesome mentors returned to the United States after a successful return trip to Haiti.
For the first part of the trip, the team worked on improving the current solar solution at the EFACAP school in Lascahobas, Haiti. The students held several meetings with the teachers and the parents to get feedback on how they feel the addition of the solar panels (in order to charge their OLPC laptops) has affected their school and their community. Both the teachers and the parents responded very well to the meetings and were very excited to get to become further involved in the project.
Another big part of the trip included the installation of the charging stations that were developed this semester. The team was able to design a simple charging station using materials that can easily be found in Haiti (pvc & hardboard) that costs less than a dollar per laptop to build. Not only did the team install a few of these new charging stations, but they were also able to get a couple of parents to show up and learn how to put them together. After the new set of charging stations were installed, a few of the students from the school were excited to help stack the laptops in their new home.
In addition to all of the meetings and the building of the charging stations, the team had another big task to accomplish. The team helped to hook up the school with the internet. With the help of our partners at Inveneo, the team not only connected the school to the internet, but also set up an entire campus network with three hot spots spread throughout. Each of these hot spots required the installation of an antenna and a small solar panel on the roof, and a charge controller and the wifi access point. Due to the addition of internet on the school's campus, the team was also able to install two servers at the school. One of the servers will be used to monitor the solar array that was installed in August, and the other server has been set up so that teachers can upload content locally and other teachers and students can access it from any computer.
One final meeting was held with the teachers at the end of the week. Since only two of the twelve teachers had ever used the internet, several of the team members held an internet training session with them. The students taught the teachers how to access content and upload new content to their new server. The teachers were also taught how to use tools such as Google Haiti and Wikipedia Haiti. Many of the teachers were quick to learn and had fun showing the others what they had found. At the end of the training session, the students walked the teachers through the steps in order for everyone to be able to make an e-mail account. The teachers were very grateful for this session and were beaming with excitement over this new tool that they now have access to and know how to use.
A lot of different things were accomplished during this trip including creating a much stronger bond with the school and the community. Even throughout the busy days of work, the team was able to find time to play games with the students during their breaks from class. Everyone had a lot of fun and was sad to leave the school towards the end of the week. The teachers and administrators are very excited for the team to return in the summer. Overall the trip was quite a success!
Team Trip to California
On October 21-23, several members of IPRO 335 attended the International OLPC Community Summit in San Francisco, California. We presented our prototype charging station, plans for implementation of a server at the school, hosted a charrette session focused on our main issues with the project, and attended presentations of projects that other members of OLPC were working on. The team also met with FJ Cava of Inveneo, a partner of ours working in Haiti to train locals on how to install wireless internet, who explained to us their business model and future visions; Will Smelko of UC Haiti and discussed possibly partnering with his organization in order to network with university students in country; and the UC Berkley TIER Group (Technology In Emerging Regions) where we received valuable feedback on how to focus on the longer-term objectives of the project. We learned that the team must understand what the community really wants and that we need to have a point-person native to Haiti who will champion the project after it has concluded with the IPRO program.
Successful Solar Installation in Lascahobas, Haiti to Charge 500 Laptops!!!!!
We did it!! We successfully carried out our first solar powering deployment in Haiti, August 3-11! The EFACAP school in Lascahobas now has the capability to charge 500 OLPC XO laptops with a direct current (DC)-only solar system. According to our research and to OLPC, our installation has the distinction of being the world’s largest single-school solar laptop charging deployment!
The team consisted of Prof. Laura Hosman from Illinois Institute of Technology, Bruce Baikie from Green Wifi, 7 amazing students from IIT (Dhara Shah, Jacob Ernst, Mario Berrones, Regine Antenor, Ryan Tillman, Simon Brauer, & Stevie Brummer), Fabrice Urrizalqui from the French-American School in San Francisco, and Guy Serge Pompilus, Director of OLPC-Haiti. We were also joined by Adam Holt from OLPC HQ, Carl Friedrich Lacrete, an engineering student at the State University of Haiti, and by 4 members of Haiti Outreach, an NGO based in La Victoire, Haiti.
But wait, there’s more! We’re extremely excited about the solar system, but there was far more to the project: The team also set up a brand-new library at the school, full of books in French and Creole, and created an inventory and catalog of the books, which will enable students and teachers to check them out once the school year starts.
With the help of a team of local survey-givers, we carried out a baseline survey with 150 respondents, inquiring of both community members and teachers on technology and electricity use in the home, and of use of the laptops in the home and in the classroom. We also talked with the teachers at the school about using the library, and about lesson plans on solar power that our team will continue to develop over the coming semester.
Furthermore, we trained the local maintenance staff as well as the school directors in how to keep up the solar system.
And we did all of this in just 8 full days on-site!
Of course, there was nearly a year’s worth of planning, designing, and hard work that made such a brief deployment time possible. We’ve worked on the design, drawings, fundraising, lesson plans, and all the various parts of the project since our class at IIT started in late August, 2010. Since January 2011, our team has raised about $25,000 to buy all of the equipment and make the travel and deployment possible. And then there were the last-minute and on-site complications… Our design’s flexibility and replicability was put to the test right from the start when we found out a week before our trip that we’d be deploying at a different school than we’d done our designs and drawings for! So we improvised. And then one of our boxes of equipment never made it through customs–so we improvised again. And then there was this tropical storm named Emily who had very similar travel plans to our own…but thankfully, her bark turned out to be far worse than her bite.
We had great opportunities to hang out with the students and other locals at the school, who threw a big party for us on the final night.
We were very sad to leave, but we hope to return in December 2011, to check on the deployment, bring some technical improvements and further-developed lesson plans, and do an installation at another school in the vicinity. That’s just four short months away! We have lots of work to do, lots of fundraising to do, too, but we’re really looking forward to it.
Preparing for the Implementation Trip
Thanks to your generous support, we've raised approximately $25,000 to date, which will allow us to deploy our solar solution at St. Gabriel School in Lascahobas, Haiti. On August 3rd, seven IIT students will travel to Haiti, meeting up with Professor Hosman and Bruce Baikie, the team's solar powering adviser. We will also be joined by Fabrice Urrizalqui, a 3rd grade teacher from the French International School in San Francisco, and by Adam Holt, from OLPC Headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We are very busy making all of the trip preparations and arrangements, and are super-excited for the adventure that awaits us!
In addition to the solar implementation, we'll also be working with the teachers on-site, to develop an educational module on solar power and meeting with the parents, to increase local awareness of and commitment to our project.
We've also received an Internet Society Community Grant to connect the village of Lascahobas and St. Gabriel School to the Internet. That installation will take place concurrently to our deployment. We're so excited to realize this dream of enabling the schools and teachers to communicate with us, and with each other.
Please be sure to check our website for updates from the field, and we'll also keep you posted with additional reports. Thank you for your support!
IPRO Day - Spring 2011
On Thursday, April 28th our team participated in the Illinois Institute of Technology IPRO Day. This is the day where the students involved in all of the Inter-professional projects get the opportunity to show off all of the hard work that they have done throughout the semester. We were able to give a presentation to a panel of judges who were very impressed with the high goals that we had set for ourselves and to the extent which we have accomplished those goals. Many projects will take an entire year to design for a project and another year to fund-raise. We have been able to accomplish most of these tasks in one semester.
In addition to our presentation to the panel of judges, we had a table set up and were able to tell many more people about our project. There was a lot of interest in our project, and IPRO Day turned into one of our most successful days of marketing.
At the end of the day our team was recognized twice during the awards ceremony. Erik Harpstead, a second semester member of the team, put together a video for our project which placed 2nd in a large pool of videos. [Find video here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7ZkeKP07FY] Our entire team was also honored for all that we have accomplished this semester and was welcomed on stage to receive medals for our hard work. We are all very happy with how the day went, but our work is not done. We have all agreed to continue to work on the project until our first implementation trip at the end of the summer.
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