Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are using their skills and knowledge on a range of schemes to support the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, which is home to youngsters from some of India’s poorest families.
The ashram is supported by DMU Square Mile India, and students from DMU regularly travel to the ashram to work with the children and the community.
Students and staff from DMU’s Faculty of Technology visited the ashram to assess its current energy system and see how they could harness renewables like solar and water to improve reliability and cut costs.
Mechanical Engineering student Nasir Balera was in one of three groups who each looked at a different aspect of the process. Information gathered was then brought back to DMU with the groups working on solutions that will then be taken back to India later this year.
They visited a community centre and looked at the ways in which energy was used and a girls’ school, which uses some solar panels for its electricity.
“It’s about seeing what could be possible and the kind of projects which exist already, and seeing how well they work,” he explained. “It makes what we learn in the lectures more relevant because we can see the issues we have to work around, as well as get the chance to talk to people who will be using the systems about what they want and make it relevant to them.”
David Pilsworth, a Mechatronics student, said one of the main problems was the unreliability of electricity from the grid. By creating and storing their own power, the ashram would be able to solve this.
He said: “This visit has allowed me to see how what we learn can be applied in real life. It’s all good seeing schematics on paper, but you need to see how things work and are used, and talk to the people using it.
“We’ve seen some of the systems used here and we are looking at a hybrid energy system, and what other features from the natural world we can use. I would like to help install the solar cells and any other renewable energy sources.”