Introducing Ned

4 Sep

Hi! I’m Edward Burnell; despite currently studying mechanical engineering at MIT, I’m the PEN webmaster — so it goes. Let me know if anything breaks.

The ideas behind PEN were sort of floating in everybody’s minds when we started it, and maybe they’ll tell you how they got involved, but in my case I can assign blame to Grace and Anna.

Grace and I went to Ghana in January 2010 as part of the D-Lab class to (among other things) teach saltwater battery lessons. Astonished by the impact they had — seemingly because they used only familiar materials to do the mysterious action of lighting an LED — we wanted to develop this idea further.

Thus did Anna and I go to Ghana for the summer of 2010 to teach ‘energy lessons’ using local materials. Staying at the Takoradi Technical Institute, and teaching students in the Fablab, we saw a lack of design and experimentation in the curriculum, and responded with improvisational science and engineering. In the last week, when students design and built solar panels, installed them in a nearby village without electricity, and explained their use, we saw the potential of this kind of education.

So Anna looked at the IDEAS contest, we all fell together through our interest in a different engineering education, and here we are.

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