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Engineers Without Borders: Solar Powered Water System for School in Sierra Leone

September 30, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

Engineers Without Borders: Solar Powered Water System for School in Sierra Leone Africa”

Jim Butt, Design Engineer, HindlePower, Inc., Member Engineers without Borders

The Lehigh Valley Professionals (LVP) chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is partnering with the Centennial Secondary School (CSS) in the village of Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone. The school was ransacked and occupied by rebels during the civil war from 1991 to 2002. Much of the school’s infrastructure, including the distributed water supply, sanitation facilities and building structures, is now incapable of meeting even the most basic needs. Prior to the civil war, CSS was a boarding school. Today, the school serves about 1,200 commuter students. Boarding is no longer possible due to the inadequate facilities.

Seven trips have been made to the school by EWB-LVP Chapter members.  To date, we have worked on solar panel lighting, sanitation, education, providing a well and water distribution projects, and building reconstruction. The most recent trip was in March 2014.

A previous MAREA talk dealt with a solar lighting project at CSS.  This talk will focus on a solar water pumping and distribution system installed at the school in April of 2013.  The system consisted of a 3 kW solar array, a 2 hp deep well pump, 12,000 gallons of water storage, 600 feet of wiring and 2,000 feet of distribution piping. The system is designed to pump 14,400 gallons per day, and contains no electrical storage (batteries). A brief review of some of the other projects will also be presented.

EWB-LVP is coordinating its efforts in cooperation with Centennial’s alumni association. The objective of the partnership is to leave the school with sustainable solutions that can be carried on without continued influx of external aid.  Our goal is to enable the school to return to the high level of education, which had been provided before the war.

For more information, see Engineers rebuild a war-damaged school in Sierra Leone and EWB-Lehigh Valley Professionals.

Hope you can join us! After the meeting, please plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. And we’re always interested in your ideas for MAREA speakers, activities and services. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there!

Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) is a national organization founded in 2002 with more than 12,000 members across the United States. EWB-USA has approximately 350 projects in 45 developing counties across the world. We are passionate people, with over 250 dedicated chapters, including university chapters on more than 180 campuses throughout the United States. There are three local chapters: student chapters at Lehigh and Lafayette, and the Lehigh Valley Professionals chapter.

James Butt holds a BSEE and MSEE from Lehigh University and holds three patents. He has worked as a Senior Engineer for Ford Motor Company, a Research Engineer and lecturer at Lehigh University,  and Chief Engineer for both Bitronics, Inc. (instrumentation used in electric utilities) and Thor Power (advanced motor drives).  Jim is presently a Design Engineer at HindlePower, Inc where he designs industrial battery chargers for electric utilities. He is a Professional Engineer and Senior Member of IEEE, IEEE Power & Energy Society, IEEE Power Electronics Society. Jim has also been involved with Formula Hybrid as a Technical Presentation Judge Team Leader. We are especially proud to say Jim is a MAREA member, and of course, very active with Engineers Without Borders.

For questions, contact Vera Cole, <a>[masked]</a> or [masked].

Free DVD with MAREA membership  While supplies last, all new and renewing MAREA members will receive a free copy of “Saving Sunshine, Keeping the Lights on with Batteries and Solar Power,” the 30-minute DVD produced by MAREA this year with funding from the Berks Community Foundation and distributed by Bullfrog Films. It’s terrific film, offering an interesting and easily understood explanation of the electricity grid and distribution generation, especially the role of batteries with solar. MAREA is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donations and memberships are how we keep the lights on. You can join at the meeting or anytime online. Thanks for your help. 


September 30, 2014
7:00 pm
Event Category:


TEK Park
9999 Hamilton Blvd.
Breinigsville, PA 18031 us


Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (eastern PA)