Tech savvy minds transform a shipping container into a solar powered computer lab


The innovative uses of shipping containers seem to be attracting attention these days. Engineering technology students at the University of Houston College of Technology used their ingenuity to design and construct a mobile computing lab that is totally solar-powered.

The power generated is sufficient for running the entire lab: 14 computers, an air conditioner, a set of batteries, and lights. A public unveiling of the fully operational mobile lab was made on May 25th at the University of Houston Campus. The College of Technology hosted a tour of the new lab, which included about a dozen local children.

This summer, the mobile lab will be shipped to Mali, West Africa, where there are an estimated 17 million people with the lowest literacy rates in the world.

Inspired by the opportunity to make a true difference in the world, a five-member student team (Isaac Garay, Chris Abad, Jorge Osorio, Stillwell Pan, and Justin Sanchez) poured their energy into the project. They worked with Dr. Richard Jackson, an internal medicine specialist and president of the Mali Nieta Foundation in planning and executing the project. "I participate in such projects because it’s heart healthy. It feels good to give back,” said Jackson. “The community has been very good to me, and Houston has been very good to me. It feels good to give back where things need to be done.”

Jackson’s foundation helped in securing the shipping container, and Professor Mequanint Moges supervised the project. Originally from East Africa, Moges has first-hand knowledge of the value of the mobile classrooms in underserved regions. “Being able to offer this education opportunity to those in need is an awesome experience,” he said.