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 University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of EngineeringOnline: Autumn 2010
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In Lincoln, BSEN faculty including David Jones and Adam Liska provide sage engineering advice to the WEP group as they make presentations to Rotary groups and prepare grant proposals. Jones said Schmidt is “very bright, and good at getting people together for a cause.”

“With her major, she studies bioproducts (which includes energy), and her minor in energy science has also been a great catalyst,” Jones added. “She has her team for the pilot project, and we talk and work through the current challenges, navigating support here and in Mali. It’s a steep learning curve but she’s doing the leg work to figure out what’s required to move forward.”

Ashley Schmidt took a year off between high school and college and found a path that motivates her engineering studies and ultimately aims to help the world. Through her church in Omaha, she volunteered for six months at Koutiala Hospital for Women and Children in Mali. She returned to the U.S. to continue her education, but never forgot Mali. She’s already finding a way to apply her learning to help the people in Mali, and beyond. And, at UNL she has gained a team that advances this goal.

Schmidt, now a junior, chose to major in Biological Systems Engineering and pursue a minor in Energy Sciences. Through those classes she met fellow student Casey Heier, Michael Trogdon (who majors in mechanical engineering and math), Kyle Curry (a finance major), Chris Johnson (a computer science and economics major) and Chris Lander (an architecture student). With another friend, Grant Stanley, who owns the Omaha consulting firm Contemporary Analysis, they formed World Energy Project in August 2010.

“We’re all very passionate about using our education to help” in places of need, Schmidt said. WEP has a website and is working on fundraising for administrative costs such as airfare and project technology. Their first project plans to install solar panels to generate a reliable power supply for the hospital in Koutiala; Schmidt will be in Mali for a February 2011 vision trip and the team will travel there that June for three weeks when they plan to install a 33 kW solar panel system. They work with a Dutch engineer and volunteer, Anco Bergeijk, who has helped install such projects in Mali at other outlying clinics. Beyond their pilot project with Koutiala, they collaborate with Daniel Thera, former leader of a Mali region (and founder of the Koutiala hospital) to build relationships with other leaders and align WEP’s future efforts, including water sanitation and irrigation pumps for public benefit. WEP has also connected with students in Mali’s University of Bamako engineering department.

 
Alex Henery | Vanessa Mpon A Ndonhong | Ashley Schmidt | Matt, Dan & Eric Tesarek
Yulia Tyukhova | Jordan Burchatz | Mitch Klein

 

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