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Global Energy Engagement Program

In recognition of the global scale and reach of clean energy challenges and infrastructure, the Global Energy Engagement Program supports CEI-affiliated graduate and undergraduate students to engage in energy projects around the world. The goal of the program is to enrich the student experience by providing exposure to hands-on projects, real-world use cases, professional network building, and project design and management experience. The program does not fund equipment and supplies to be installed outside WA state, and therefore projects that require hardware costs are expected to have multiple funding sources beyond CEI.

The ideal Global Energy Engagement Program project will:

  • Provide unique educational experiences to students
  • Involve UW students in planning and design of project
  • Engage local organizations
  • Provide value to the global partners

Awards to Date

2017-18: Nanogrid Installation (Puerto Rico)

After the September 2017 landfall of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, UW chemical engineering professor Lilo Pozzo initiated an effort to help the island’s most vulnerable citizens recover. From fall 2017 to summer 2018, Pozzo led three trips to the rural mountain municipality of Jayuya — the hometown of her wife, Marvi Matos — to provide aid to the residents and study community energy needs after natural disasters. Teams largely made up of CEI students installed 21 solar PV-battery “nanogrids” to power medical devices, conducted qualitative interviews of the residents, and collected data from the nanogrids’ integrated loggers. The initiative gained national recognition, including in a New York Times article on the aftermath of the hurricane, and the team published their research in IEEE Power & Energy magazine. The project was also featured on UW’s homepage and in various UW print publications.

2017-18: Materials & Solar Conference Participation and Development (Botswana & Cameroon)

In December 2017, former CEI postdoc Sarah Holliday (materials science & engineering) and CEI Graduate Fellow Griffin Ruehl (chemical engineering) traveled to Gaborone, Botswana for the 9th International Conference of the African Materials Research Society (AMRS). The conference, “Addressing Africa’s Challenges Through Materials Development,” was focused on science that will enable local industries to meet the continent’s existing and future needs by using readily-available materials and natural resources, including solar energy. In 2018, CEI Graduate Fellow Breena Sperry joined the team, and she and Ruehl co-organized a 5-day conference with the African Network for Solar Energy (ANSOLE) in September 2018 in Mbouo-Bandjoun, Cameroon. The conference, held at the Centre Polyvalent de Formation vocational school that has the country’s only solar certification program, included hands-on training and research presentations on photovoltaics and energy storage, as well as what they believe to be the first women’s panel at an ANSOLE conference. Ruehl and Sperry hope to establish a video lecture partnership with ANSOLE.

2019: Nanogrid Installation & Training (Guatemala)

Over spring break 2019, a group of seven CEI students traveled to Cobán, Guatemala in collaboration with Seattle-area entrepreneur-philanthropists to install seven solar-battery nanogrids and provide training for local community members. Equipment and local organization were provided by Guatemala Solar LLC and the local non-profit Vivan Los Jóvenes. The team has since established itself as a UW registered student organization (RSO), now known as Global Renewables Infrastructure Development (GRID). GRID signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Guatemala’s Galileo University for future collaborations, and aims to expand their outreach efforts to other regions in the future.

Applying for Global Energy Engagement Funds

Project proposals are accepted on an ongoing basis but should ideally be submitted at least 3 months before the start date to provide time for evaluation and planning. Student groups should meet to plan their project in detail and produce a project proposal with these points:

  • Purpose, destination, dates, significant activities before and during travel
  • Name of faculty or staff sponsor
  • Statement of educational value of project to students
  • Names and affiliation of student participants
  • Local partner organization and responsibilities
  • Measurable objectives and plans for evaluation
  • Plan for dissemination of lessons learned
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between all partners
  • Project budget showing all expenses and the matches that will be provided from other sources. CEI supports travel expenses and not equipment or aid packages.

Selection Process

Global Energy Engagement project proposals are reviewed by a committee of Clean Energy Institute students, faculty and staff. Projects are competitively evaluated based on the quality of student learning that is possible, the degree of student involvement, the strength of local collaborating organizations and contacts, and the potential positive social impact of the activity.

Travel Arrangements

Students are responsible for booking their own flights, land transport, and accommodation, and should present the receipt for reimbursement to CEI. It is critical to make reservations at least 2 months in advance to get the best rate.

Before the Trip

While on the Trip

  • Register with the US local embassy
  • Keep ready access to emergency contacts
  • Take pictures documenting work and impact
Tips from UW Photo
  • Use instincts and empathy to remain respectful of people and spaces.
  • Introduce yourself first and ask if you can take pictures before lifting the camera.
  • We are likely to feature these photos in a UW news story — explain this, and make sure subjects sign a UW photo release.
  • Try to assign someone to focus on photography for a sustained period.
  • Capture each other, your work/conversations/interactions with locals, products like solar panels in environmental context, and landscapes, textures, colors, flags, art on the walls, etc.
  • Try to wear purple, or a UW or CEI logo. Other small logos can be photoshopped.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask to move someone or something, or repeat an action.
  • Shooting too many photos is better than too few.
  • Explore different angles, shoot through windows or gaps in trees, put stuff in the foreground.
  • If you feel adventurous and have any manual controls:
    • A bigger aperture (lower f.number) gives soft background with sharp subject, small aperture (bigger f.number) useful for landscape shots with a lot of light. Recommend shooting on setting where you can pick the aperture and the software picks the shutter speed.
    • If shooting inside/in lower light, don’t be afraid to push ISO higher.

After the Trip

Provide CEI with a summary of results, evaluation of the project, and suggested next steps. Project summaries should be submitted to CEI within 60 days of returning to UW.