The Institute - June 2021 - 59

one of the donor-supported priority
initiatives of the IEEE Foundation.
The group asked her to manage an
electrification project inside Kenya's
Maasai Mara National Reserve, where
she assessed communities' needs.
For the project, Smart Village partnered
with the Maa Trust, a nonprofit
that aims to combine education,
technology, and vocational training to
enhance opportunities for children in
Maasai Mara.
After completing her assignment
last year, Chelangat joined Smart
Village as an employee, where she
is responsible for pursuing funding
She hasn't left hands-on powerengineering
work behind, however.
She is helping to provide electricity
and Internet connectivity to telehealth
centers in Kenya so doctors
can interact with patients who live
in remote areas. The project is in
partnership with IEEE Smart Village,
the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley, the
Global Telehealth Network, and Rotary
" Volunteering through IEEE has
This Engineer's Mission:
Powering Rural Kenya
Mercy Chelangat helps telehealth centers solve Internet
connectivity and power challenges
GROWING UP IN Sotik, Kenya, Mercy
Chelangat saw firsthand how much
technology can help underserved
communities. When she was young,
the IEEE member and her family
visited Nairobi, Kericho, and other
Kenyan cities and saw how having
reliable electricity could improve lives.
It wasn't until 2016 that transmission
lines were installed in Sotik.
Chelangat's desire to provide the
town's homes, stores, and farmers with
electricity motivated her to pursue a
career in power engineering.
After graduating from college in
2017, she worked for several Kenyan
Photo-illustration by Stuart Bradford
companies striving to provide clean
energy to communities around the
country. But she felt as though she wasn't
leaving a lasting impact on people's
lives, so in 2018 she decided to become
a full-time volunteer for the IEEE Power
& Energy Society's Kenya Chapter. She
was the secretary and treasurer and
worked to increase membership through
social-media outreach.
Through her work for the chapter,
she learned about IEEE Smart
Village, a program that brings electricity-as
well as educational and
employment opportunities-to remote
communities. IEEE Smart Village is
expanded my mind and has allowed
me to meet people from different walks
of life, " Chelangat says.
Pursuing her passion
Chelangat's first job was a researcher
for Industrial Promotion Services,
in Nairobi. IPS focuses on providing
farmers and rural communities with
affordable energy.
Chelangat and her team were
assessing the use of solar-powered
mini electrical grids. But the organization
didn't find the projects feasible at
the time, as there was little demand for
power in the communities, Chelangat
She says she felt as though she
wasn't using her engineering skills
there, so she left in 2018 to become
a trainee at OFGEN, an engineering,
procurement, and construction
company in Nairobi.
She learned more hands-on
technical skills in solar power, smart
metering, and power storage solutions.
But she felt discouraged after a project
manager would not let her install solar
panels. She says he was concerned
JUNE 2021

The Institute - June 2021

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