A team of engineering students from the University of Michigan installed solar panels at a rural school in the Boca do Mamirauá community in Alvarães, Brazil. The initiative, founded by Ethan Shirley, is designed to provide sustainable energy for the school, which previously had no power during the day and relied on a generator at night.

The solar panels enable the school to run fans, lights, and a water fountain, addressing issues caused by intense heat and lack of access to cold water. These conditions forced the school to release students early, impacting their education. 

“The school needs energy during the day to run the fan, to have lamps, and also for a water fountain,” said Ethan. “Children suffer from the heat and the lack of cold water. Therefore, they have to be released from school early, which is not good.”

Through the Pantanal Partnership, a student club at the University of Michigan, this project also offers practical engineering experience to the students, who typically learn the theoretical aspects in the U.S.

The project has been ongoing for more than a decade in the Pantanal region. Read more here.