Students at SAIT are working hard to make the world a little brighter with an LED lighting system for people in the developing world.
The Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) students hope their prototype will be able to change people’s lives with access to electricity.
Chris McDiarmid, Christine Nickel, Trevor Schwartzenberger and Marc Tardioli, second year students at SAIT have been working on the project since January.
The team’s instructor, Darko Stelkic, said about 1.6 billion people worldwide are without lighting.
“These people use most of their daylight hours to just sustain their living. After dark is their opportunity to get additional income for the family,” said Stelkic.
“Not having a reliable and good source of lighting really limits the number of productive hours in the day.”
He said each of the United Nations’ millennium goals can be advanced with access to safe, reliable and sustainable lighting. Many people in developing countries use kerosene, which is expensive and hazardous to their health. Stelkic said about 30 per cent of a families’ income is used to purchase kerosene.
Across the world, 20 per cent of all energy is being used by kerosene, while they produce 0.2 per cent of the light, said Stelkic.
He said the project is currently replicating the existing system, but the advantage of being part of an educational institution is that they have more people to understand the implications and benefits of lighting, and can customize it to people’s needs.
He said for example in Africa, people want to be able to charge a cellphone off such a system, so they’re working on implementing that.
“Our biggest challenge was starting with the circuits and getting the prototype,” said Schwartzenberger.
He said one million children die each year because of the health effects from burning kerosene.
The project will continue under other students as it goes forward. Stelkic said he hopes to put together a trip to India with the students to set up the technology, see the benefits, and further understand people’s needs.
“Money is the biggest challenge at the moment,” said Schwartzenberger.