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Engineering students improve schools by fitting solar panels

Pupils in a school in India have been able to power their washroom and a classroom for the first time thanks to solar panels installed by students at De Montfort University Leicester.

washroom

Abdur-Rasool Moura, studying BEng Mechanical Engineering, and Miriam Magdiza, doing a research Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, worked with Dr Rupert Gammon, of DMU’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) and research assistant Varun Advani to install solar panels on a school in Pagnispaga, Gujarat.

The project is part of DMU Square Mile India, created to support positive change in communities in Gujarat. DMU has forged links with the Gandhi ashram, a home which cares for 120 children from some of the poorest families in the area. A trust has been created to help pay for books and equipment while students can put their degree skills into practice and gain valuable experiences. Research staff can also demonstrate the impact their work can have on people's lives.

The power from the panels was connected to a washroom to allow children to switch on a light there for the first time. The lack of washrooms plays a huge role in children’s education in India.

solar panels 1

Nationally some 40 per cent of children, many of them girls, drop out of school by 14 because there is no toilet or no privacy. A study by children’s rights organisation CRY found one in 10 schools do not have basic facilities and in 34% of schools, toilets are unusable. For every washroom built, it is estimated 150 girls will stay on in school.  

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Abdur said: “It was an amazing experience and I got to work with some talented people in the solar field.  It was nice to also be a part of something that will benefit the girls at the school as something we take for granted here is life changing for the people over there.

“This trip has humbled me and made me appreciative of our facilities and lifestyle in many ways. I would like to thank #DMUglobal for putting together such an amazing trip.

Abdul and the others in his team stayed at Daly College, a private school in Indore during the trip. They also learned more about the culture of India by taking part in visits and meeting communities.

The trip was funded by #DMUglobal, the university’s international experience programme which aims to help DMU students gain a fresh perspective by experiencing other cultures.

Posted on Thursday 7th April 2016

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