Students collaborate to bring low-cost solar energy to Nicaragua

When electrical engineering student Patrick Delaney was in Nicaragua last December conducting research for a senior design project, he spent a few minutes helping a family in a remote mountainous region fix a nonfunctioning solar-energy panel.

As a result of his thoughtful gesture, Delaney changed the entire focus of his research project. He's now embarked on a collaborative effort to create a portable, solar-powered "lantern" that would give rural villagers a few hours of low-grade lighting each night.

Delaney and five other electrical engineering students at the University are working with students from the University of Nicaragua and the University of Calgary, Canada, to design a Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamp that can be manufactured in Nicaragua and purchased cost-effectively by the people there.