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Global Dimension

Sustainable Development in Sumba, Indonesia – IBEKA

For the summer of 2018, I was awarded an Independent DukeEngage grant to work with IBEKA in Indonesia on sustainable development initiatives including micro-hydro power development, solar-powered water pump design, microfinance/impact investing transitions, and a variety of other intriguing projects. While in Sumba, I worked with local engineers trained in Java on understanding the issues of energy access and poverty that faced the isolated and under-resourced communities of Sumba, and then worked alongside them to pilot and execute a variety of projects. One of the projects that we worked on was a hydropower and solar power feasibility survey of the town of Madutolong, which is a significant area in East Sumba. With my peers, I designed and translated a questionnaire to help understand local needs and activities relating to energy access, poverty, and clean water. I went home to home to interview dozens of households, village leaders, and farmers, gaining a deeper understanding into what the issues and the strengths were in Madutolong, and working with my colleagues to understand what the best move forward was for the community. We also spent days surveying the hydropower and solar power potential of the region, taking measurements to understand the capabilities of the natural resources in the village. Our team decided that a solar-powered water pumping system was the best choice for the village, as clean water was the first barrier to their health improvements and quality of life increase. We used both our consumer data and survey data to design a solar-powered water pumping system in AutoCAD, and wrote up a technical grant proposal to receive funding for the water pumping system. IBEKA submitted the proposal, and has recently received funding to build the water pump in Madutolong. The process of interacting with the community helped ensure communal trust and buy-in, and the process of surveying the natural resources helped understand capacity for energy infrastructure innovation.

Other projects I worked on while in Sumba included co-instigating the creation of the first drip irrigation and ferrocement tank systems on the island. Along with my partners, we piloted, implemented, and tested these clean water initiatives to further contribute to the growing research and development that IBEKA’s engineers continually take part in. Additionally, we designed a solar thermal cooking system whose easy-to-make designs we distributed in attempts to spur local adaptation, as an effort to reduce biomass cookstoves.

Regarding micro hydro power, I worked to repair and reinstall the Mbaku Hau Micro Hydro Turbine, which was hit by a large flood early in the year. Along with engineers from IBEKA and PLN, the national utility, I participated in the disassembly, cleaning, and re-installation of the entire turbine system. Along with the re-installation, I helped attach a remote monitoring device to the hydro plant to collect accurate data on the energy usage and distribution of the plant, in order to help optimize the efficiency and utilization of the plant.

Additionally, I helped pioneer IBEKA’s jump into the impact investment space, helping them steer the parent fund Nusa Terang towards impact investments and not purely financial investments. This reorganization has the potential to provide IBEKA with the agility to operate as a social business rather than just an NGO. In the impact investment space, they can open up to private investment without sacrificing their goals as a development organization.

Overall, this internship added a global dimension to my knowledge and experience with infrastructure development and innovation. I learned so many intangibles that help round out the engineering skillset that I am picking up in the classroom. Along with IBEKA, I was able to visualize a future where Sumba’s increasing urbanization and connectivity operates efficiently and cleanly.

Start Date: May 15, 2018

End Date: July 18, 2018

Total Engaged Hours (including planning): 350+ (split with service learning)

DukeEngage Supervisor: Dr. Josiah Knight, MEMS, GCS Advisor

IBEKA Supervisor: Project Manager Pradygdha Jati

Duke Engineers for International Development–El Pital, Honduras


During my freshman year, I worked on a grey water filtration and clean cook stoves project in El Pital, Honduras. As a team of 6, we designed and built industrial grease traps in El Pital to take 40 homes off of the existing polluting system. We also built and documented a clean cookstove project to help prevent biomass pollution within the households. We interacted and engaged with Un Mundo, a local NGO, and the community along the way.

This project relates to my GCS efforts because it adds a global dimension to my understanding and efforts in the improvements of infrastructure in the developing world. This experience was invaluable and unforgettable, and the success of our project helped motivate my continued involvement in the international sustainable development space.

Start Date: July 2017

End Date: August 2017.

Supervisor: Dr. David Schaad, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Total Engaged Hours (including prep): 150+ (split with service learning)