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SU Students Design Generators for Developing Communities

If you had to hike from Seattle University to the Seattle Center and wait in line to pay money to have your cell phone charged you’d be peeved…to put it mildly. Now consider that many people in developing countries must do just that, and yet the use of cellular technology is common.

“Over 75% of people in developing communities have mobile signal coverage,” explains Electrical and Computer Engineering student Yousef Algannas. “These communities need a reliable means to charge their cell phones,” he adds. Student engineers Algannas, Steven Cruz, Vinh Ho and Wayne Urubio are designing an arrangement of magnets and wires that can be used to harness human motion or the power in moving air to generate electricity.

Creating simple, low-cost machines for electricity generation that can be built from readily available materials with easy maintenance is the goal of their senior design project. “The students are working to design 100 Watt generators that can be used in rural communities that do not have access to the electricity grid,” says Electrical Engineering Professor Henry Louie. The generators can be used to charge batteries for lamps, radios or cellular phones. “This design could be used by people in their homes to replace the usage of oil flames which are extremely dangerous,” continues Algannas. The students will be using sophisticated electromagnetic field modeling software that will allow them to detect inefficiencies in the generator and optimize their design.

The project is sponsored by the IEEE Power & Energy Society Community Solutions Initiative, and was recently highlighted at the 19th annual Future Cities competition where middle school students display their vision of cities of the future. Dr. Louie also gave the keynote speech “Engineering a Future City” which describes the role engineers will play in making tomorrow’s cities a reality.

The Project Center

Working as a faculty advisor on student projects helps me to expose my students to an entirely new range of skills that they will need when they become practitioners in their chosen fields. Project management, teamwork, communication, translating academic knowledge to reality are skills that set our students apart. The partnerships we’ve built with sponsoring organizations provide valuable professional connections for students and faculty alike.

- Teodora Rutar Shuman, Chair, Mechanical Engineering