After a recent PBS video featured NAU’s Personalized Learning program, a partnership was formed with We Care Solar to bring solar powered electricity to NAU students living without electricity, with plans to expand the program to field research and STEM programs in Northern Arizona.
We Care Solar and We Share Solar, the educational branch of the organization, provide solar powered units to communities around the world with little to no electricity. The idea started in Nigeria, where co-founder Dr. Laura Stachel was researching maternal mortality rates. Medical procedures were performed with flashlights or delayed until there was sufficient daylight, putting patients in danger.
Laura and her husband Hal Aronson, who happens to work in solar energy, came up with a portable solar solution that they brought back to the facilities Laura had visited. The portable suitcases were used for demonstration purposes at first, but the staff began putting them to real use while larger solar panels were installed for the facilities.
The success of the program allowed Laura and Hal to expand the program to the educational sphere with the We Share Solar program. Typically these suitcases are sent to schools in remote villages in Africa, but there are communities in need of electricity less than 50 miles from Flagstaff.
A group of NAU students ITS staff recently worked with Hal to begin the solar suitcase program to NAU. This group learned about solar energy and electrical circuits while building solar suitcases that could eventually be deployed to students in need or used for field research.