Fall 2021 - Sponsors’ Activity Report

Robert H. Giles, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Lowell Physics Department

The Current Activities – Building on a Legacy of Excellence

COVID-related travel restrictions to Haiti since June 2019 has not slowed the work of HDSC’s advanced undergraduate capstone students! Building on the concepts of prior UML/HDSC engineering teams lead by Honors College Alums Rachel Paquette in January 2014 and then by Maggie Davenport in January 2019, UML’s environmental engineering student, Joshua Walsh, spent the 2020/2021 academic year designing a potable-water sand-filtration system enabling the RAW Haiti’s Youth Wellness Center to deliver safe drinking water for a neighborhood at the edge of the poorest community in Port Au Prince.

As with so many of UML/HDSC’s undergraduate engineering students, Joshua was not content with working on just one project. He also successfully designed a solar thermal domestic hot water system and solar energy system while providing technical support for establishing a small electrical micro-grid for a town at the outskirts of Les Cayes. 

Approached in the Spring of 2019 by a Haitian American business leader, Mr. James Eliscar on behalf of Simone, Haiti; UML’s undergraduate Business major, Brendon Aylaian, designed and evaluated the economic feasibility of a small solar energy micro-grid with smart-meters for pay-as-you-use electricity to be installed in the community of Simone. Receiving a donation (facilitated by the HDSC) of 60 solar panels for the community grid, Mr. Eliscar has his own shipping company for transporting the panels to Haiti. He is in the process of receiving 40 more panels and Brendon has offered to expand the evaluation study as a graduate student teaming with a few fellow UML undergraduates.

Having formally established a Memorandum of Understanding between U. Mass Lowell and the Université Publique du Sud Aux Cayes (UPSAC) in Laborde, Haiti more than two year ago, U.Mass Lowell’s undergraduate physics major, Anne Souza, developed and taught an electronics lab while I taught a “Science of Energy” lecture course. We conducted the lecture/lab course Thursday’s 2 to 5 PM and have successfully completed AY2020/2021 online curriculum with the aid of UPSAC’s Science Instructor, PierreLouis Maxo and Language Assistant, Steevenson Rosema. (Anne Souza’s final report has been provided.)

While all these activities are on-going, sadly much the familiar landscape in Les Cayes has been destroyed by this past summer’s earthquake. Many are homeless now and the buildings we frequented and used to house team visits demolished. For now, research and teaching activities will continue with online support provided to our academic partners in Cayes, Haiti. A visiting team from UML is being planned for Spring 2022 to Port Au Prince in support of RAW Haiti’s programs given the travel situation remains favorable.

Making a Difference Together

Serving as a model international academic framework, UML researchers seek partnerships with philanthropic foundations for supporting the Haiti Development Study Center and are grateful for its growing base of sponsors. By providing scholarships and operational support for HDSC programs, these partnerships strengthen our commitment to impoverished international communities, using research, technology and education to make a lasting difference. The HDSC is an academic engine, small, but powerful enough to work in both directions; sharpening the research skills of UMass Lowell students and raising their awareness about factors that hinder progress in impoverished countries, while also helping Haitian students get the education they need to move their country forward.

Committed toward the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s mission to provide a transformational education that fosters student global awareness, the Haiti Development Studies Center recognizes Board of Advisors:

  • Brian Corr, Executive Director, Cambridge Peace Commission
  • Maureen Kelly, Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering

With a complete list of its advisors, participating faculty and sponsored activities available at: The Haiti Development Studies Center.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is a public research university committed to excellence in teaching, research and community engagement. Our mission is to provide a transformational education that fosters student success, lifelong learning and global awareness. UMass Lowell offers affordable, experience-based undergraduate and graduate academic programs taught by internationally recognized faculty who conduct research to expand the horizons of knowledge.

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