Solar Little Free Libraries provide power to people who need it most

For many people who are homeless or members of underserved populations, cell phones are a lifeline; a phone may be their only way to keep in touch with distant friends and relatives, schedule medical appointments and job interviews, and deal with emergencies. Prof. Giri Venkataraman and PhD student Maitreyee Sanjiv Marathe took on the challenge, even organizing a hackathon at the UW-Madison makerspace they dubbed the Solympics, to generate ideas for a solar-powered public charging station. The winning concept was the e-Little Free Library.

UW-Madison project turns Little Free Library into solar-powered phone charger

The Little Free Library in Madison’s Lisa Link Peace Park on State Street has gone solar. A group of UW-Madison students have outfitted the community book depository with a solar-powered battery with ports and cables to charge cellphones and other small electronic devices. The project is part of an effort to improve energy resilience and bring clean energy to underserved communities, especially those experiencing homelessness.

IEEE Guest Editorial Special Issue: Commemorating 40 Years of WEMPEC, 1981–2021

In the 1970s, a small community of pioneering researchers around the world in industry and academia were laying the groundwork for the discipline of solid-state power electronics as we know it today. Near the end of that formative period, the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) was founded in 1981 by Profs. Donald W. Novotny and Thomas A. Lipo at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Prof. Robert D. Lorenz joined the embryonic WEMPEC program faculty in 1984, bringing his unique expertise and passion for motor drive controls.