Engineers Without Borders Provides Electricity for Yabucoa Elder Care Center in Puerto Rico

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On June 24-28, 2018, a team of three students and one advisor from the University of Maryland chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-UMD) joined with Global Solace and traveled to Puerto Rico to provide electricity to the Yabucoa Elder Care Center (nursing home) by installing a solar photo-voltaic system as well as emergency backup electricity to the center for future storm-related emergencies.

The Puerto Rico travel team consisted of John Heide (Sophomore, Electrical and Computer Engineering), Megan Gertmenian (Sophomore, Civil Engineering), Meredith Bertulaitis (Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering), and Advisor Bryan Quinn, Director of Technical Operations for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

In 2018, Hurricane Maria devastated the electrical grid in the town of Yabucoa, downing trees and wires, and destroying many homes. Roads have been cleared since but the electrical grid restoration is still in the process of being rebuilt, which can take up to a year. Quinn and the team of students assisted with the installation of a 3 kW solar array on the upper flat concrete roof of the building, installation of inverter and batteries in the laundry room and interconnection to the building electrical system, and replacement of approximately 50 percent of the existing light tubes and bulbs with LEDs to reduce the electrical load.

Engineers Without Borders USA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable development through engineering assistance and training internationally responsible engineering students.

Published August 14, 2018