Student Develops Solar Powered Cooler

On Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, international student and electrical engineering major Adama Ouedraogo won second place in the Fall 2017 mechanical, electrical and computer engineering Senior Design EXPO for his original prototype of a portable solar powered medical cooler.

Since then, a student and faculty research team within the division of Engineering Programs at New Paltz has joined Ouedraogo’s efforts in bringing solar energy technology to new areas of the world.

Ouedraogo came to New Paltz in 2016 from Burkina Faso, a West African nation, in hopes of developing the medical technology he believes will improve everyday life in his country.  

Burkina Faso, located between the Sahara Desert and the more tropical Sudan region, has two competing seasons of rainy and dry climates, but both include torrid heat. The heat makes transporting medical supplies to remote areas of the country with limited electrical infrastructures impossible.     

“In Burkina Faso, we do not have enough grid capacity for everybody,” Ouedraogo said. “In many of the villages and remote areas, there may not be power, so we have to find other alternatives, and we have a lot of sun.”

Ouedraogo visualized the simple concept of using photovoltaic panels to power a small refrigeration system for hours at a time to safely transport medical supplies to those in need. 

With help from assistant professor of engineering Rachmadian “Doni” Wulandana and associate professor Faramarz Vaziri, Ouedraogo was able to develop the prototype and showcase his original idea at the EXPO, where he was awarded second place. 

The Senior Design EXPO, is modeled after professional conferences and research presentation events, is a culmination of senior students and faculty four-year engineering collaborators, where they display original design products and innovative solutions to contemporary technological challenges.

 Now, with the assistance of an extensive research team and support from the Sustainable Seed Fund, a project dedicated to enhancing the understanding of sustainability concepts among faculty and students, Ouedraogo will present the updated prototype on April 20 at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference held at SUNY Oneonta. 

“This project has the potential to deliver a very valuable service to a lot of people,” Wulandana said. “It’s going to be difficult, but I believe the global economy will convey this technology to these communities soon.”