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Course: 16.208 - Basic EE Lab II
Semester: Spring 2007
Instructor: Alan Rux
Partner: Village Empowerment Peru Project (VE)
Off-grid remote villages in the Peruvian Andes rely on renewable energy to power light sources. Since power is limited, LED devices have been employed for various tasks as a way to save energy. Subsistence farmers can harvest more of a ready crop by harvesting into the night by use of headlamps. Headlamps using LEDs have been used for night farming and VE is working to help develop microenterprises for local manufacture and rentals. Representatives from VE presented the students with a slideshow and discussion about the conditions in the Peruvian villages and the need for their experimental results.
LEDs come in various colors all at different costs. The class divided into five teams of students and a supply of various color LEDs with cost data was provided. Each team had to devise a consistent strategy for using the given lab set up to measure objective parameters such as luminosity, as well as subjective harshness on the eyes, etc. The goal was to recommend the best combination of LED colors and numbers that would allow a farmer to see well enough at night at minimum cost. Each team wrote a brief report to document their findings and recommendations. This course had never contained a S-L component in the past and the students liked the project, reporting to the instructor that they found it interesting and worthwhile.