May 29, 2017

Welcome to E4C’s Research Fellows of 2017

Our newest cohort has surprises in store for this second year of the Research Fellowship Program. This year, we broadened the program’s reach to invite students and practicing engineers from around the world. The 12 fellows represent six countries: Canada, Guatemala, Sweden, Uganda, the United States, and Venezuela. The program has also evolved with the inclusion of three expert fellows. Expert fellows lend guidance to field research and reporting. But the core mission has not changed, of course. Our fellows investigate and report on technologies that meet basic needs to improve the quality of life in underserved communities worldwide. With their help, we can offer normalized data on hundreds of products and services in our Solutions Library.

The fellow’s work is especially valuable in our field, technology for global development. They solve two problems. One is that information about products is scattered, and the second is that it’s chaotic. It’s scattered across the Web and offline in labs, hard drives and file cabinets. And it’s chaotic in the sense that there is often no accepted norm for how to measure a product’s performance or even for which data is essential to include. Product details can be a jumble of specifications, prices, field test results or whatever each designer or manufacturer decides to mention. Our research fellows help us solve both problems. They gather product information into one place and display it in a standardized format for side-by-side comparisons to the competition.

The fellowship’s benefits are not limited to E4C, of course. Supported by a grant from the United Engineering Foundation (UEF), the four-month program is designed to deepen the fellows’ understanding of development engineering through research, analysis and engagement with the E4C community of experts. E4C’s goal for the fellowship is to prepare a future generation of development professionals to deliver solutions where they are needed most.

We’re excited to welcome and proud to introduce these dynamic individuals. To break the ice, we asked the fellows to describe a challenge in technology for global development that interests them.


Interested in becoming a fellow? Please contact us at

Grace BurlesonGrace Burleson

Water sector | USA

Grace is from Beaverton, Oregon (USA) and is pursuing a dual MS in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Anthropology at Oregon State University. Her current research works to integrate and evaluate improved clean water and cooking technologies for institutions, such as schools and hospitals, in low-resource contexts.

One of the challenges we face in development engineering is integrating systems-based interdisciplinary approaches. I believe that holistic models lead to engagement, long-term use, and sustainable practices in global development. I am interested in tackling global challenges by integrating methods and expertise from engineering, anthropology, and entrepreneurship.

Alex GreenAlex Green

ICT sector | USA

Alex is pursuing a Master’s degree in Information and Communication Technology for Development from the University of Colorado.  He has worked with a social enterprise in Kenya, GreenChar, a biofuel producer and Math and Sciences Academy, a non-profit based in New Mexico.

One of the challenges in ICTD, and development as a whole, is a general lack of infrastructure.  The part that I find interesting is that in some cases that has become a benefit in that solutions are developed without a requirement for traditional infrastructure. That is allowing the communities to leap frog over those requirements and come to closer to parity without the costly investment.

Gustav IsaaksonGustav Isaksson

Sanitation sector | Sweden

Gustav has fulfilled a master in environmental technology and sustainable infrastructure at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He is an active member of Engineers Without Borders – Sweden and has experience from project work in several African countries and the Middle East. At the moment he is doing an internship at the Swedish embassy in Maputo, Mozambique.

One of the challenges I find interesting in development engineering is the crucial adaptation to the local context, not only technically speaking but also regarding the sociocultural context. I enjoy the necessary interdisciplinary approach and having to consider many aspects. Looking at the effects of introducing a technology in a broader sense than making the technology work makes it extra interesting to find smart solutions.

Trevor NagabaTrevor Nagaba

Transport sector | Uganda

Trevor Nagaba is pursuing a B.S in Electrical Engineering at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Passionate about leadership, development and social entrepreneurship, he is eager to find out the kind of impact these three ingredients can make.

The world’s population is growing with about 95% of this growth expected in developing or underdeveloped countries over the next 2 decades. This will put immense pressure on the transport systems in these countries. Contributing towards tackling this challenge of transportation is exciting to me because an improvement in the quality of transportation has a direct impact on people’s ability to trade and therefore their ability to prosper.

Elisabeth van OverbeekeElisabeth van Overbeeke

Housing sector | Canada

Elisabeth graduated with her master of architecture from the University of Waterloo in 2015. She has contributed to building design, master planning, and community mapping projects in Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nepal. Elisabeth is currently working on a range of architectural projects with Philip Beesley Architect and Rolf Seifert Architect in Toronto, Canada.

I am interested in the process of designing and building spaces that improve quality of life, which includes navigating the social and organizational challenges behind it. The process of building a solution involves addressing layers of complex problems (maybe even new problems created by the solution), skill-building and communications, strategic phases of implementation, and the integrated involvement of various stakeholders and users. I am interested in exploring how these relationships are mapped out so that the big picture can be more easily understood and solutions can be more intentionally designed and communicated.

Mayari PerezMayarí Pérez

Agriculture sector | Guatemala

Mayarí is pursuing a B.S. degree in mechanical and industrial engineering at Universidad del Valle in Guatemala. She’s a member of Rotary International and likes working with local communities in Guatemala through volunteering and academic projects.

Causing a real lasting impact. Offering a solution or product that fits the user needs in a way that can actually impact their everyday life. This requires good communication, working up close with the user, thinking outside the box and coming up with simple solutions. Following up on the project, giving it continuity and scaling the solution are essential to reach as many communities as possible.

Ricardo SantanaRicardo Santana Sanjuan

ICT sector | Venezuela

Ricardo is an engineer with specializations in ICT and public policy. He has deployed projects related to transformation and development through innovation and technology. He holds a Master in Optical Communications from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and is finishing a Master in Strategies and Technologies for Development at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain.

ICTs are producing what some may call the fourth industrial revolution. Although humanity is witnessing an impressive progress in this field, its impact in social development has been very modest. The correct use of technology can improve production cost, service cost, monitoring and evaluation procedures and optimize processes. The correct application of it is the biggest challenge we face ahead.

Caroline WolfeCaroline Wolfe

Health sector | USA

Caroline graduated from the George Washington University (USA) in December with a degree in mechanical engineering. She will enter graduate school for biomedical engineering in the fall at Imperial College London (UK). In addition to E4C, she will be tutoring mathematics and enjoying the outdoors on her road bike this summer.

One thing that interests me about developmental engineering is the idea in many countries that healthcare is more of a choice rather than a necessity. Due to the lack of resources and wealth, the mindset surrounding healthcare is far different than it is in most of the US. Recent advances in medical technology have greatly impacted the US and other developed countries, but the impact of these devices rarely reaches the undeveloped countries. Transportation to health facilities is also a concern.

Elizabeth YoderElizabeth Yoder

Energy sector | USA

Biz graduated from Colgate University (USA) with a Bachelors in Physics and Women’s Studies. She works as a Project Manager for Empower Energy Design, building electricity from local resources with a team of Ugandan technicians and engineers.

One of the biggest challenges in engineering development is ensuring local sustainability. Many development projects are formed with good intentions but are not always suitable for the community. Collaboration and a strong focus on eye-level development is essential to success.

E4C’s Expert Fellows of 2017

Rebecca CiezRebecca  Ciez

Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University, and is currently a PhD student in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on energy storage technologies and applications, including electric vehicles, microgrids and other off-grid energy solutions.

New, low-cost energy technologies are transforming the possibilities for delivering electricity to unserved and underserved communities, but in conjunction with these new technologies, we also need to develop innovative means for implementing these technologies. The business and community organization models need to not only address basic quality of life improvements, but should also align with long-term community improvement goals to be truly transformational to local economies and communities.

Krista LiguoriKrista Liguori

Krista recently completed her Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (USA) and is an alum of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program at Penn State (USA).  She is wrapping up one year of research in Iquitos, Peru where she evaluated a de-centralized dry composting toilet system in the floating communities of the Amazon and conducted research on the development and dissemination of antibiotic resistance from hospitals into the environment and surrounding communities.

The engineering challenge of most interest to me currently is sanitation!  As more cities and countries work on increasing their infrastructure, we see a lot of projects that copy what has been successful in the USA or Europe, with mixed results.  For example, Iquitos is one such city that designed a wastewater system based on Western practices, with very poor results. The unique geography and climate in the Amazon means that during rain, the city center floods with sewage from the new system.  To design more sustainable sanitation systems for low-income, isolated, and/or tropical environments is of great importance and an interesting challenge.

Caroline SoyarsCaroline Soyars

Caroline is a Global Health Fellow with Baylor Global Initiatives at Baylor College of Medicine (USA). She holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan and was a part of the inaugural cohort of Engineering for Change Fellows last summer. Sustainability.

In today’s world, technology is becoming increasingly accessible from a cost perspective. Consider 3D printing as an example. High quality printers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years ago can be purchased today for USD $2500. While this significant reduction in cost makes 3D printing a feasible option for low-resource settings, the technology cannot be sustained if it isn’t deployed with appropriate educational tools. I am interested in how we can overcome implementation challenges such as education and maintenance to enable sustainable use of appropriate technologies.

Comments from the Community


  1. anup.chakole says:

    This is a great initiative and a platform for those who want to make a change in the world.
    You people are working in the betterment of world and people. I also want to contribute to this thing and also participate in various activities.
    Your visions are same as mine ,
    So lets come together and contribute ourselves to people.

  2. andrew says:

    I m engineer at renewable energy at tanzania contry

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