Engineering: A Humanitarian Project WIND TURBINE

22.09.2015

If you wanted to provide isolated communities in the developing world with electrical power, what would you do? Give them solar panels or perhaps provide them with wind turbines? 

Humanitarian Engineering - Wind Turbine

Harnessing renewable energy seems like a sensible direction to take in areas with little or no established infrastructure. The technology certainly exists but how long would these systems last before requiring specialist maintenance? Who’s going to repair them when they go wrong and how would the replacement parts be obtained?

It’s a problem that’s got the attention of Tom Austin, an undergraduate student studying with us at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He has spent the final year of his engineering degree trying to prove that you don’t have to be a trained engineer or have access to costly specialist facilities and resources in order to construct a wind turbine to harness this natural resource for yourself. Tom is convinced that the best way to make this technology widely accessible to people in the developing world is to investigate the ways in which communities (once provided with a kit of basic parts) could construct and maintain wind turbines themselves.

Many traditional undergraduate Engineering projects focus on areas such as reducing production costs, increasing product performance, reducing weight or improving productivity. One of the features which differentiates this type of project is that, at its core, the focus is on using science, engineering and technology to improve the quality of life of marginalised and disadvantaged people around the world. This is sometimes referred to as social sustainability.

Other student projects have investigated sustainable transportation systems and methods of storing temperature sensitive vaccines in countries where only basic resources and materials can be obtained. In the coming years, the School of Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics aims to investigate areas such as shelter, water purification, sanitation and medical issues with a view to developing technical solutions which, if adopted, would improve the standard of living of some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged communities.