Written by: Steve Tshimanga
My name is Steve Tshimanga and I grew up in the city of Mbuji-Mayi located in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This city was renowned for the presence of an important diamond deposit which was exploited by the MIBA Mining Company. Since most of the electricity produced locally was dedicated to the functioning of the mine, we faced daily power outages. These outages affected us students as we were forced to study with candles or torch lights, and the local hospitals which had lifesaving medical procedures halted for long hours.
The day I came across a web page that spoke about harnessing power from the sun and wind at a local internet cafe, a light came on in my spirit – I was inspired to learn how make it possible for students to study at night without requiring candles, and to the medical institutions to continue their life saving work in clinics and hospitals unencumbered.
This scholarship award found me at just the right time. Like many students, in addition to my studies, I would pick up several part-time jobs to pay the bills. This award gave a financial boost when I needed it most and the results were immediate – more dedicated focus on studies rather than finances contributed to a measurable increase in my GPA.
Today, thanks to my ongoing studies at Carleton University, my knowledge in this field has increased; furthermore, the importance of a low carbon life for giving the next generation a chance to equally have an earth to live on has become my life assignment. I look forward to striving in research and practical works that target efficient and low carbon energy systems. I owe it to the young people of Mbuji-Mayi. Finally, I would like to extend my appreciation to AEE Canada East for the scholarship for which I was a recipient. This award demonstrated the commitment that Energy Engineers have towards our planet. For myself as a junior in the field, I understand there’s a path that I can boldly walk, and a community that will support my vision of low-carbon energy systems for non-developed countries as well.
Could you elaborate a little on how you’d like to give back to your community. Based on what you are learning, what type of projects do you think would help most?
Yes, most definitely. There’s quite some solar potential in central DRC. However, with most solar cells providing only about 20-30% efficiency, the goal is to get involve in solar cell efficiency improvement research. Additionally volunteering in setting up larger solar power plants in the region will be great. The goal at this level would be the introduction of solar power for lighting purpose, to allow students to read at night and the city to be lit for the safety of the public. At the later stage it will be great to introduce hybrid systems as in Micro-grids, which is quite foreign subject in this specific region. Microgrids Renewables + Non-renewables working together to reduce carbon emission and improve the life of the people. This is how I aim to give back to my community.
Could you elaborate on why awards like ours are so important to students today?
This program was really important to me and the award I received from your organization alleviated my financial stress. During school, I had to pick up part time jobs to help me financially, but the term in which I received your award it allowed me to focus on school and get the most out of it. During this term I also increased my GPA, and I completed my degree with a great standing that gives me the ability to go further with my studies i.e signing up for Masters program.
You might also find inspiration in what our Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers is doing. What else have you found in the AEE community after receiving this award?
This award demonstrated the commitment that Energy Engineers have towards our planet and for myself as a junior in the field I understand there’s a path that I can boldly walk on and a community that will support my vision of low carbon energy systems for non-developed countries as well.