Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center

Design of an Independent Power Supply for a new Community and Cultural Center

Chirimoto Development Project, Inc. (a recognized 501c3 charity organization dedicated to assisting the people of Chirimoto, Peru with educational, economic and development projects) and the Town of Chirimoto, Peru


The Chirimoto Development Project, a recognized 501c3 Charity, has been working in Chirimoto for about two years. We have already facilitated the redesign of the Community and Cultural Center and it has now been completed using Regional Government money. We have initiated a bookmobile to take books to four local elementary schools and we have delivered 25 used laptops to the community for the schools and new library. We are working on setting up a telecommunications system to assist with conducting adult education classes in the new building and we are planning semester abroad programs with integrated Service Learning and Community Service projects. And we have assisted the community in the preparation of an Economic Development Plan to help the community sustainably achieve economic growth and prosperity.


Among the many challenges facing the community is power. The town was destroyed by a flood in 1979 and power was only restored in May of 2009; and then only marginally. The newly renovated Community and Cultural Center will be capable of utilizing far more power than is available in the community and it will be very expensive power. The obvious solution is to provide some independent power source for the new Community Center, which was designed to serve as a classroom, a dormitory for visiting students and faculty, a home for the caretaker, a laboratory for research, a large hall for public meetings, an apothecary and a community library.

There are three obvious possible sources of power: solar, wind and water. The water source, however, is unusual in that we are considering inserting a generator, or series of generators, inside one of the main water supply lines that serves the area. There are three sources of water that can serve the town, but only two are in use. The unused source may provide enough pressure to generate sufficient power. The closest source being used currently requires 7 pressure reduction valves along the way from the source to the distribution system to keep the pressure low enough at the distribution system. Certainly, there is plenty of opportunity in that line to create more than enough power for the building and possibly enough to power other municipal buildings, such as the local elementary school and town hall, as well. These options, and any others the investigators identify, need to be scoped out and evaluated and a selection of the best option made and designed.


The person or persons who do this project should have among them a good working knowledge of Spanish, since the residents of Chirimoto do not speak English. Team members also need to be able to effectively evaluate various design options on economic bases and to design an electrical engineering solution to the stated problem. The Chirimoto Development Project will assist with all aspects of the project, as needed, but a good understanding of the principles involved, even if application experience is weak, is desirable.


There are no specific time constraints. However, the sooner this project can be designed and built, the sooner the true potential of the new structure can be recognized, adult education classes can be started, and the whole enterprise can begin to show results.


Name: Prof. Francis J. Hopcroft
Phone: 617-989-4177

PKG Center Support

MIT students who develop projects around these ideas may apply for support from the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center's Fellowships or Grant programs. Please check the program descriptions and deadlines and talk to program staff to determine which is most appropriate for your needs and project.

If you want to volunteer or you have funding from outside the PKG Center that enables you to work on this project, that's great! However, please do let us know if you work on a project you saw advertised here, even if you don't use our funds. And remember, the PKG Center staff are happy to advise on service projects even if we are not funding them ourselves.

Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center
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