Project - ATC STEM prgram

STEM Program
Appropriate Technology Collaborative

ATC began working on rough designs for a solar lighting system for low-income people in 2005; In 2007 they made a visit to Guatemala and, after interviewing residents there about their needs, goals for the future, and resources, hcollaboration began with a group of Guatemalan Engineers to create a low-cost lighting system that could be assembled and repaired locally. In 2008, ATC began to work with Guatemalan Engineers; residents of the mountainous region near Quetzaltenango, to design lighting systems that fit their particular needs.

Guatemala is the third poorest country in the western hemisphere1. Lack of education, particularly for young women, coupled with high fertility rates keep women and families trapped in poverty. There is a proven way to break the cycle of poverty by providing young women with education and opportunity. According to data from demographic and health surveys, women with little education have large families, whereas better educated women have smaller, healthier families. Women's technical education through ATC's Circuits and Solar workshops will provide young Guatemalan women an understanding of the technology that fuels the 21st century while at the same time teaching critical technical skills that women need to become solar technicians. Graduates of the 2013 classes will be offered a chance to join a Guatemalan Women's Solar Power Cooperative.

The primary purpose is to provide a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) rich curriculum with a focus on electricity and solar power. In addition we propose to establish a women's solar power cooperative where women sell pre-made unitary solar lighting solutions and install larger solar power systems for families, medical clinics, community centers and commercial buildings. The graduates of our Mayan Power and Light program will become role models showing young Mayan women that there are no limits to what they can achieve.

The Mayan Power and Light program will serve 12 women mentors and 45 young Mayan women in 2013. The project will be staffed by Jose Ordonez, Engineer, Carlos Alvarez, Engineer and MarĂ­a Natalia Xec Poz, educator and business incubation. Our Guatemalan staff has provided business incubation services to 4 "green" businesses, including a solar power business. All 4 businesses continue to grow and are considered quite successful. The solar power cooperative will serve the Guatemalan departments of Solola and adjacent departments.

On a trip to visit the schools Forix was less impressed with the likelihood of success of the solar program - not all the kinks had been worked out from unit delivery, to repair, to distribution. However, the empowerment that the women achieved by acquiring a skill and all the associated benefits, from having their own money to acceptance from their spouses to the ability to educate their children, seemed to out-weigh the ups and downs of the program itself.