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Solar Energy Saving Lives

Solar Energy Saving Lives

Malawi Solar 2219 Views

Nothing is more important than life. Unfortunately, there are people and places still waiting for modern technologies and resources to help save and improve lives. In Malawi there is an infant mortality rate more than ten times that of the United States. This is in large part due to frequent and unexpected blackouts that have major implications for patients undergoing important life saving procedures.

To combat this, GVSU students have designed Solar Suction Surgery Systems (S4) powered by the sun, our greatest renewable source. These devices store solar energy and provide power to lighting, suction machines, and other auxiliary services that are critical during medical procedures. The first device was delivered in 2013 and has been used on a daily basis to save lives.

This project aims to further this endeavor by establishing a sustainable method of delivering solar powered medical devices while at the same time providing an experiential learning opportunity for GVSU students.


This project directly impacts 100,000 people served by Embangweni Mission Hospital. These devices provide reliable back-up power in surgery rooms and lower the infant mortality rate in Malawi. This problem is not unique to Malawi and our solution can be adapted to other similar environments.

The educational portion of this project will raise awareness of healthcare challenges in developing countries and provide students with practical experience in tackling challenging real-world problems.

What I Will Do With $5,000

We are requesting $5000. We will use $2000 for the transportation and installation of the three devices being currently built. The additional $3000 will be used for the design, creation and delivery of future devices built by the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing with assistance from the Seidman College of Business.

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About Malawi Solar

We are a team of students from the Padnos College of Engineering, College of Education, and Seidman College of Business at GVSU. Our engineers are masters students from Dr. Jiao's Photovoltaic Systems class and our education masters student is serving as the project manager. Together we are working with Dr. Martha Sommers, a physician in Malawi for fifteen years, to develop solar powered medical devices.

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