A majority of airports around the world still use the good old mains power from the National Grid. However, we are in a time where renewable and sustainable energy is the way to go and a Kenyan high school student has an idea for an airport.
A 15 year old student from Aga Khan Academy Mombasa (AKA), Shashank Arvindan created a model for a solar powered airport for Mombasa. Mombasa experiences an average of 173 days of sunshine a year and since airports spend a lot of money on electricity, this potential inspired Arvindan to work on this model.
“I wanted a project based on my passion and that could solve a specific global issue,” Arvindan was quoted as saying. “There is a lot of pollution concerns in the aviation field and this prompted me to look into solar power as part of globalisation and sustainability aspects of the project. I actually started thinking of sustainable energy when my family moved to Mombasa in 2007 and began experiencing the hot climate.”
The model of a solar powered airport was his Year 10 Personal Project at Aga Khan Academy, which is part of the school’s International Baccalaureate program that challenges students to undertake an in-depth research on a topic of interest and deliver a viable outcome.
The process of building the model was not easy at all. He had to pitch to engineers for interviews for consultation purposes. Reaching out for expert advice worked well for him.
“I remember a day when I was attempting to assemble the prototype and got a burn injury while connecting the circuit. However, two engineers from Kenya Aviation Authority and Baobab Beach Resort helped hem understand to assemble the circuit, solar panel, resistors and the battery to get the model working.”
It required a battery, electrical cables, solar panel, lights and wood, which he used to create a replica of Mombasa airport. The resulting replica has a runway with functional lights and a source of electricity.
Arvindan is one of the more than 80 students that developed new products and concepts at this year’s personal projects at Aga Khan Academy Mombasa and it included other projects like apps to manage diabetes and in-car pothole detector.
“The role we play as supervisors is like that of professors in a college or undergraduate thesis,” Rodney Bosire, AKA teacher and Arvindan’s Personal Project Mentor said. “We give guidance to get the students to bring out their personal interest, develop research skills as well as think about the global context and how the project solves the specific concern mentioned.”
It is quite encouraging that we have school programs that allow students to come up with tech solutions that can be applied to our institutions.