UW EE Alum Henry Louie (Ph.D. 2008) is the recipient of a Fulbright Award, allowing him to spend a year at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in power engineering and conducting research on energy poverty.
“Receiving a Fulbright Award is a prestigious honor, and one that I am very proud of,” Louie said. “The Fulbright selection committee saw the value that being in Zambia full-time for almost a year would bring to me, my work, Seattle University and Copperbelt University.”
The award corresponds to Louie’s sabbatical year at Seattle University, where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Louie has spent the past seven years working on electrification projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, completing most of his fieldwork during summer and winter breaks. He will now spend an uninterrupted year abroad, departing for Zambia in September 2015 and returning in August 2016.
Louie will spend the first six months focusing on research and mentoring the junior faculty at Copperbelt University. The remaining five months will be spent teaching an undergraduate course on electrical machines and a graduate level course on power system analysis.
As only 3% of rural Zambians have access to electricity, Louie’s research on energy poverty will entail working with the organizations KiloWatts for Humanity and IEEE Smart Village to install off-grid micro-utility systems in remote areas.
“The systems we will install will provide access to electricity to people who otherwise must travel up to 20 km for access to the electrical grid,” Louie said.
Special equipment will be installed in the systems to monitor electricity usage and system health. This will allow Louie to study how people use electricity after gaining initial access.
“If we improve our understanding of how the electricity will be used—not only how much electricity, but when it is used—we can design more cost-effective systems and increase the number of people impacted by off-grid projects,” Louie said.
Louie will also work with ZESCO, Zambia’s largest power company, to develop models of their rural distribution networks. He hopes these will become widely used to better prepare engineers in the U.S. and other developed countries to work on electrical infrastructure in countries such as Zambia.