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CU-Boulder graduate student Matt Hulse works with one of the Haitian instructors, Yves Saint-Cyr, on building a basic circuit with a switch and an LED.

This summer, five University of Colorado engineering students took a break from learning to help Haitian teachers develop a green energy curriculum for high school with a focus on vocational training.

Four graduate students and one undergraduate spent two weeks in Leogane, Haiti last month helping six local teachers who are hoping to train students how to build and maintain green energy systems, which will help bring power to the underprivileged country.

CU graduate student Joanna Gordon said even before the 2010 earthquake, the country had unreliable access to power. The curriculum provided by CU’s students included training in solar, wind and hydro-energy systems, which Gordon said are more affordable and realistic options for the country’s poor infrastructure.

“Most of these places are using diesel or gasoline generators right now, which is not very reliable and expensive,” Gordon said. “Solar panels are actually a more feasible option for them anyway, so this is a great way to help bring that technology to Haiti.”

CU graduate student Nathan Canney said while the earthquake destroyed the poor infrastructure that previously existed, it provided an opportunity for the people to start from scratch and build a more consistent energy system.

“Green energy makes sense in Haiti,” Canney said. “They have lots of sunshine, so solar power is ideal.”

Canney said helping the Haitian school will allow the country to implement and maintain sustainable energy.

“I think this really sets a model for how countries like the U.S. should be dealing with places like Haiti,” he said. “We should be providing education and training systems in order to allow these countries to eventually be self-reliant.”

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