Humanitarian Advancement Through Technology June 1 - 4 th, 2014

Tutorial-2 D1.1

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PRESENTER: Ray Larsen, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Community Solutions Initiative (CSI), IEEE Life Fellow


This interactive workshop explains the IEEE Community Solutions Initiative to bring affordable electricity to energy-impoverished off-grid areas and why IEEE should be incubating new products and seeding new collaborative businesses to do so. The technical, business and Standard Operating Procedures models are presented briefly through slides and discussed in Q and A sessions. The first CSI SunBlazers deployed in 6 Haitian villages in June 2011 clearly demonstrated self-sustainability potential. However the next deployment in 9 villages in August 2012 revealed both technical and operating problems resulting in lost revenue and slowed progress. These were addressed in a successful 2013 retrofit and recovery program. Lessons learned also led to redesign of SunBlazer for portability into off-road areas and to reduce base unit costs. The first SunBlazer II is headed to rural Cameroon for field trials while funds are being raised to through IEEE Foundation to build seed systems for ten new startups per year. The workshop will discuss the role of IEEE, the local entrepreneur-owners, and each partner company which aims to acquire capital to grow to reach at least a million people with basic lighting and auxiliary power. The economics will be reviewed with a detailed example and sustainability conditions discussed. The continuing role of IEEE volunteers for product incubation, feature and cost improvements, technical training and field support through the startup phase are discussed. Finally, a CSI collaboration to help launch a broad holistic range of both community-driven business and education initiatives is explained.


Ray Larsen received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering at UBC and a Degree of Engineer in EE from Stanford University while working as an instrumentation project engineer at the new Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). He became Electronics Department Head overseeing instrumentation, controls, pulsed power and large experimental detectors. He took 7 years off from SLAC to found an instrumentation company which developed novel products from patented custom integrated circuits developed at SLAC. He has held many IEEE offices including President of the Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS); chaired many conferences and workshops; and helped design four generations of physics instrumentations standards, chairing two of them. In 2009 he joined the Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC) and founded the Community Solutions Working Group, later CSI, dedicated to reaching millions of the global 1.3 billion without electricity. Ray has been inspired by Jeffry Sachs, Paul Polak, Amartya Sen and the IEEE visionaries who launched the HTC program that global poverty is a soluble problem, a matter of the will of developed countries and not of economic means. He believes that CSI can help make important breakthroughs by focusing IEEE’s enormous volunteer talent and resources on holistic sustainable community-owned initiatives.




0830-0845 – Introductions and Audience Expectations

0845-0920- IEEE CSI Global Plan & Products

0920-0945- Business Plan and Standard Operating Procedures for Community Entrepreneurs

0945-1000- Break & Q&A

1000-1030 – Example Sustainable Operations & Cost Model

1030-1045- Discussion

1045 -1115- Sustainability “Beyond the Light Bulb”: Community-Driven Education & New Initiatives

1115-1130-  Discussion & Wrap-up