Princeton junior Ishani Sud has combined her interests in engineering and outreach to implement a solar oven project in Africa. The ovens, which she designed with classmate Lauren Wang, are constructed with locally available materials. Sud spent last summer in Kenya continuing previous work on the project and in Tanzania launching a similar program at a school for indigenous people.
March 2008: Princeton University’s informal motto ends “… in the Service of All Nations,” an ideal being pursued by two undergraduate engineering students spreading solar cooking skills in Kenya and beyond. In 2005, Ishani Sud and Julianne Davis traveled to Laikipia, Kenya to introduce solar box cookers designed by Sud and classmate Lauren Wang, and to build solar cookers with appropriate local materials. To facilitate technology transfer, Sud and Davis chose to work with primary school students and hold special events to spark interest with parents. Covering topics in science, conservation and renewable energy, Davis taught elementary students in the Mpala Research Centre school, while Sud taught middle school students at the Lekiji public school. Lessons for the older students included a series of experiments, such as comparing black metal and white metal temperatures when exposed to sun, that helped them understand how solar cookers work and select appropriate construction materials. The locally available materials chosen for these cookers were Cyprus wood, aluminum sheet metal, glass, and black cloth as a box liner to absorb sunlight. Time was set aside each week for students to work on constructing their own solar cooker. More recently, Sud has returned to Kenya to continue her work on the project, and has launched a similar project at the Aang Serian school in Monduli, Tanzania.