Student team wins Ford grant to further work on a hybrid renewable energy system

October 8, 2014  


Hamzah Alahmadi, at left, a Purdue undergraduate student in electrical engineering, works with a staff member from the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology in Bangang, Cameroon, last August. (Photo contributed)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A team of Purdue University students working on a hybrid renewable power system for use in remote communities in need of electricity has been awarded a 2014 Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) grant.

The grant is one of 16 from the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. The grants support student sustainability projects.

The Purdue Micro-Hydropower (MHP) team will receive $25,000 to support its continuing effort in the village of Bangang, Cameroon.

The team, working in collaboration with Purdue's Global Engineering Program and the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, already has helped establish and upgrade a locally sourced and fabricated micro-hydropower facility to generate electricity in Bangang. 

However, the plant alone cannot meet the village's electricity demand during the dry season. Now the MHP team is working on a hybrid, renewable energy system that, combined with the hydropower plant, will provide reliable electricity throughout the year.


Eleni Bardaka, a Purdue doctoral student in civil engineering and student leader of the Purdue Micro-Hydropower team, works during a field trip to Bangang, Cameroon, last August. (Photo contributed) 
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Objectives of the ongoing project are to design the hybrid renewable energy system; locally fabricate, implement and evaluate the system; and then create an open-source online and physical database to support other rural communities interested in replicating the system.

The faculty advisers to the team are Konstantina Gkritza, associate professor of civil engineering and associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and Jun Chen, associate professor of mechanical engineering. The students currently on the team are Eleni Bardaka and Rebekah Miller, civil engineering; Hamzah Alahmadi, electrical engineering; Yousef Alkoblan, mechanical engineering; and Larisa Barannikova, psychological sciences.

 Ford C3 recognizes colleges and universities for utilizing school resources and student participation to address an urgent community need under the theme: Building Sustainable Communities.

Ford C3 winners are required to present proposals for sustainable projects with significant student input, involvement and leadership. Water conservation, renewable energy, urban gardening, recycling and transportation are among the proposals submitted.

More information on the Ford C3 grants is available at 

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432,

Source: Konstantina Gkritza, 765-494-4597,

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