Michael O'Connell is an electrical engineer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in renewable energy in various roles for 20 years.
He currently teaches renewable energy subjects part time at various TAFE colleges and universities and has been involved with the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) www.ata.org.au, a non-profit group dedicated to promoting and disseminating information about sustainable living at a grass roots level, as a volunteer and board member, for many years.
The ATA has been very active in East Timor in the last few years installing solar power systems in remote comuunities and it has been a very satisfying experience to be part of a volunteer group training people and helping them build and operate renewable and sustainable energy systems in remote areas.
I built my first solar cooker in 45 minutes (an ROB) from an old computer monitor box, some aluminium foil, glue and gaffa-tape. I then proceeded to cook rice, peas and corn, boiled an egg and even a cooked fairly bland "bread" in a small plastic take-away food container. Over the next few days I took every opportunity to heat up water for tea or coffee and virtually lived on rice based dishes. I was hooked!
I then built a box cooker and went crazy cooking anything I could stick in it (not always to my family's liking - I have to admit they didn't always turn out very well). But the biggest thrill was successfully cooking a lamb roast with all the trimmings much to my family and friends astonishment!
I have taught a number of people how to build simple cookers and I love to watch their faces as this simple technology actually cooks things.
I keenly follow all the developments that are happening in solar cooking and other sustainable technologies and I am working on a design of my own which I hope to publish soon (once I've tested it properly).