During the summer of 2018, 6 students and 2 mentor members of the Sierra Leone team completed a solar panel implementation trip at the Abigail D. Butscher Secondary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Throughout the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters, the team developed a design to give the students and teachers of the secondary school solar power using panels and batteries sourced in country. The completed project consists of 12 solar panels and 12 batteries which supply 3 classrooms with light and power. All components of the system were planned, calculated, and installed by students under the expert supervision and guidance of a professional engineer and professor. In addition to completing this technical project, the team also had an opportunity to strengthen relations with the students and staff of the school as well as the surrounding community. The team spent time communicating with the school staff and community in order to determine what the school needs next and what the best course of action for future projects is.
In August of 2019, a team of 3 students and two mentors from the UMD chapter of MDSE completed a joint implementation/ need assessment trip at the Abigail D. Butscher school in Sierra Leone. The focus of the trip was water accessibility, sanitation, and a new school building.
The team configured and implemented a local intranet system using 3 Raspberry Pis with 15 laptops. A multi-day workshop was held for the teachers, covering basic computer skills, navigation of the intranet server, and classroom computer implementation. The server database contains useful classroom resources such as Khan Academy, Wikipedia, textbooks, music theory, medicine, and world culture. The existing solar powered UV water filtration system was monitored and repaired, with a 12V battery and new filters were replaced.The team instructed the staff on how to maintain this system independently, so that this system will be sustainable for years to come. A new inverter was wired into the existing solar system, and the school caretaker installed latches so that the latrines could be internally locked.
A site survey was performed on the school and interviews with community members were conducted. The Abigail D. Butscher school plans to contract a Sierra Leonean company for a new high school building. Needs persist for clean drinking water and a new latrine system, which will be met through engineering design projects by the University of Maryland team. Moving forward, the main focus will be designing a new latrine system. The input received from the community was insightful, and will guide the design process.