Engineering student volunteers at the service of emerging countries

The engineering students of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Lausanne Federal Polytechnic School) have placed the skills acquired in the course of their training at the service of humanitarian projects. One of these is the installation of solar collectors in a Nepalese school, designed to expand the use of renewable energies in the schools of the area.

Humanitarian and Development

Chaurikharka, Nepal

Anca Strachinaru

€5,000 (2011 Student Solidarity Prize) to the Selection Committee at 2011/06/28

Project leader

Ingénieurs du Monde - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

"One has the feeling that one has succeeded in doing something to effect a small change in the destiny of these children."

Anca Strachinaru

The nonprofit Luklass promotes the schooling of 600 children of the villages of Lukla and Chaurikharka, located in the Khumbu Valley, in northeastern Nepal. It plans to equip the school of Chaurikharka with solar panels to contend with the energy shortage. Located at an altitude of 3,000 meters and rather inaccessible, the school is heated with wood in the winter, and barely enough energy is left over to electrify the classrooms. In extremely cold weather, classes are simply suspended.

Budding polytechnicians for a school on the roof of the world

Having learned about the project, the director of cooperation at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) connected Luklass with Ingénieurs du Monde and proposed providing the NGO with the skills of student volunteers. Ingénieurs du Monde sent out an engineering student, picked for his expertise in renewable energies. This nonprofit, created in 1990, works to raise the awareness of the student body and the teaching staff on development issues in the emerging countries. It allocates grants to the students, who pursue courses associated with their studies at the service of NGOs operating in the South and East developing countries.

With the support of a thesis advisor, head of the EPFL renewable energies laboratory, the student will carry out a study to optimize the installation of the solar panels to ensure the subsequent replication of the model for the other schools in the valley. He also trains the future users to guarantee maintenance and upkeep of the equipment over the long term. The aim is to reproduce the Chaurikharka experiment in other schools of the Khumbu Valley, starting with Lukla.

These field experiences with Ingénieurs du Monde, give the students an opportunity to apply their technical knowledge during technical assistance missions, which also constitute a practical learning scheme.

The sponsor of the project, development assistant at the Veolia Environment Campus, connects Ingénieurs du Monde with the Dalkia trainers of the Campus.

The grant awarded by the jury of the Student Solidarity Prize will specifically finance the IT equipment required to manage the installations.