Tag Archives: introducing

Introducing Maddie

4 Sep

Hi all! I’m Maddie. I’m a mechanical engineer – for real now, apparently! (I just graduated from MIT Undergrad.)

Working with PEN is my Dream Job: engineering, education, energy, fun people… For me, the best parts about engineering are constantly learning, tinkering and building cool projects, trying new things, working with great people, and hacking at problems that you don’t know how to solve, but know you can figure out with enough time and energy. And trying to share how fun and exciting that is with other students!

In an effort to postpone joining the so-called Real World, I am now attempting to work on PEN full-time. I’ve spent much of this summer working with Anna, Heather, and Albie at the TTI Fab Lab in Ghana, and meeting great people from all over the world there, at Maker Faire Kumasi, and at Fab7 in Lima, Peru.

I am now back in Boston, and excited to keep learning, developing PEN, and exploring hands-on education and fun engineering projects!

Maker Faire Kumasi


Introducing Heather

4 Sep

I’m a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, and my research involves design and fluid mechanics, which is uncovering insight for ocean/wind energy. PEN is an exciting thing for me to be a part of, since it brings together two things I really enjoy: building things and working with students.

I spent some time this summer at the TTI Fab Lab in Ghana. Along with other team members, I helped test some of our initial lessons. See pictures of our wind turbine and more in a previous post here!

Introducing Grace

4 Sep

Grace abandoned science and technology at fifteen, after being so bored by her physics class that she bullied her teacher into not letting her back in. Luckily, though, she somehow realized all the exciting, creative possibilities of making things and figuring out how they work, and a few years after that became an MIT engineer. She has since dedicated her life to saving bored teenagers from the horrible fate that GCSE Physics almost led her to.

Grace got involved with PEN after teaching science lessons using locally-available materials to students in Ghana with MIT D-Lab and seeing how much of a difference a practical, creative approach to teaching science made.

For PEN, Grace works somewhat on lesson development and mostly on illustration.


Introducing Anna

4 Sep

Hello everyone! I just graduated from MIT in Physics and (unrelatedly) Writing/Humanistic Studies, and I’m living near San Francisco working on PEN lessons and catching up on sleep. Next year, I’ll be doing research into appropriate technology at Suame Magazine in Kumasi, Ghana. I’ve always been interested in education– particularly, how to help students understand that science doesn’t take place on the blackboard.

I’ve worked with Maddie, Heather, Ned and Aron to develop an alternative energy curriculum at the TTI Fab Lab in Ghana, and helped with Maker Faire Kumasi this past summer. I’ve also taught classes on oil mining in Ecuador, and worked on photovoltaics and solar thermal technology in Nicaragua with D-Lab. Most of my energy-related work experience is in the policy realm: I’ve done research on EU renewable fuel markets for a methanol startup, and investigated the economics of US electricity regulation.

Introducing Brianna

4 Sep

Hi, I’m Brianna. I graduated from MIT in June (2011) in Physics and Electrical Engineering, and will be studying photovoltaics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia starting in March (2012). It’s probably no surprise therefore, that my area of energy expertise is solar!

Things that I did at MIT that lead to me getting involved in PEN include taking Fundamentals of Photovoltaics, Physics of Energy, and DLab:Energy, selling my soul to the Shakespeare Ensemble, and being roommates with Anna for the first two weeks our freshman year. For PEN, I’m working on lessons in that area, general curriculum development, and acting as Keeper of Deadlines, among other things.

I hail from rural New York State, but am currently based in Cambridge, MA. I like trees, tea, theater, tiny houses, apparently things beginning with the letter T, and making things any way I can.

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.