Record 150 SolarSPELLs Built in One Day!

On Saturday Oct 21st 2017, over 40 volunteers arrived at ASU’s Polytechnic campus to help build 150 SolarSPELL digital libraries. This is the largest build in the history of the project, breaking the previous one-day record of 100. These libraries will go out to Peace Corps volunteers and local teachers in Tonga, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Fiji in the coming months.

The day began with a presentation by Prof. Laura Hosman, giving a background of the SolarSPELL project and an overview of appropriate technology for resource-constrained locations. During this presentation, the SolarSPELL university student team was busy getting the build area ready for the larger group.

The volunteers transitioned over to the build area and received a step-by-step walk-through of each stage of the building process, led by the SolarSPELL Hardware team lead and Build-Master, Miles Mabey. Subsequently everyone chose their stations and jumped right in.

There were many opportunities for hands-on activities, including wire-stripping, soldering, gluing, cutting, velcroing, heat-shrinking, and laminating.

The hardware team took advantage of lessons learned from the previous Build Day last April, to make numerous process improvements, so the assembly line-style work was even more efficient.


The Build Day proved to be a family affair on multiple fronts, with many siblings, parents, and children coming out for the day’s activities.

We also welcomed some students who are originally from Rwanda and South Sudan to the Build, which was particularly exciting since approximately half of the SolarSPELLs will be going to Rwanda and South Sudan. These students are Bridge2Rwanda (B2R) scholars. B2R is an integral SolarSPELL partner for the project in Rwanda and South Sudan.

We also had significant representation from across ASU’s colleges, schools, and campuses, with volunteers coming from ASU Library, the College of Nursing and Health Innovations, the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, The Polytechnic School, the School for Earth and Space Exploration, and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. ASU Alumni also came and rolled up their sleeves to help in the effort!

We even got press coverage from the State Press—click here for further reading and more photos!

The fabulous photos in this post were taken by SolarSPELL team member Tyrine Pangan, bottom row, right, in the team picture below.

The finished boxes:


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SolarSPELL Project Honored with PLuS Alliance Education Innovation Award

Dr. Laura Hosman received the PLuS Alliance Prize for Education Innovation at an awards ceremony held at Bush House, of King’s College London, on Sep. 3 2017.

The PLuS Alliance Prize recognizes outstanding innovation contributions by individuals or groups in addressing the greatest global challenges facing society today. The PLuS Alliance Prize was established in 2017 with a total prize of $50,000 and is awarded annually in two categories: Education Innovation and Research Innovation.

These prizes are awarded to ground-breaking research that either addresses a need or solves a current problem in one or more of the arenas of global health, sustainability, social justice, or technology and innovation, in the previous five years.

The Prize is designed to highlight innovative work that:

  • Addresses a globally significant issue
  • Makes a direct and positive impact
  • Helps—or has the potential to help—communities globally

After presenting the award to Dr. Hosman, ASU President Michael Crow connected to the SolarSPELL WiFi and was impressed by how quickly the website came up on his smartphone.

Dr. Hosman also had the opportunity to explain how the SolarSPELL digital library works, to many of the event’s attendees.

It is truly an honor to receive this award, as it recognizes the dual importance of SolarSPELL’s mission: to offer transformative educational experiences for my ASU students, as they see the project through from A-to-Z, designing, building, and then implementing the libraries in the field. Simultaneously, the library is benefiting schoolchildren and communities across the developing world. Receiving this distinguished award will help our team continue this important work and have a greater impact, for even more people, around the world. Thank you to Arizona State University, to the dedicated students I’ve worked with, and to the PLuS Alliance!

Posted in Arizona State University, Solar Digital Library, SolarSPELL, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SolarSPELL featured on ABC15 (Phoenix) news!

Earlier this week, Phoenix’s ABC15 news featured a story on the SolarSPELL digital library.

Posted in Arizona State University, Solar Digital Library, SolarSPELL | Leave a comment