EMPOWER: Vol 3. Issue 1 – January 2022

Home / News / EMPOWER: Vol 3. Issue 1 – January 2022
Posted On: 01.21.2022

ISV Governing Board welcomes Dr. Ramakrishna Kappagantu
IEEE Smart Village has welcomed Dr. Ramakrishna Kappagantu to its governing board from IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES).

Ramakrishna graduated in electrical engineering from MNIT-Jaipur and proceeded to pursue his Masters in automation & control from PG School. He later obtained his PhD in smart grids from NIT-Tiruchirappalli, India.

Ramakrishna has over 36 years of leadership experience in Indian Power Sector having served in the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited and power grids. He is presently consulting independently for smart grids, solar projects and smart cities across India. Earlier he made significant contributions towards development of India’s 1st Smart Grid Pilot Project and effective management of 55GW Southern Regional Grid, its complex real time operations, power markets and smart grids/ smart cities, renewables, power system economics (SCADA-EMS). He has contributed toward the development of smart grid in India both as an application engineer and a researcher.

He is a versatile speaker and loves Indian classical music. He works for embedding human values in technology & management and strongly opines that values induction alone drives the technology growth for benefit of humanity.

Ramakrishna is an IEEE Life Fellow and a Chartered Engineer of Institution of Engineers (India). Volunteering for over 25 years and as Senior Member for more than 30 years in IEEE, PES and Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), a national honors society for electrical engineers. He has served IEEE from 1990 in various capacities including IEEE Board Member & Delegate in 2015-16 as Director of IEEE Region 10 (Asia Pacific). Currently, he is on the Board of Region 10 as Advisory and on the Governing Board of IEEE PES as Member at Large.

His relentless efforts for IEEE’s technical & humanitarian activities fetched him 2010 IEEE Outstanding Volunteer Awards from Region 10 & Bangalore Section, 2011 IEEE MGA Achievement Award, 2012 IEEE PES Bangalore Chapter Outstanding Engineer Award, 2014 IEEE MGA Innovation Award, 2017 MGA Larry K. Wilson Transnational Award and 2020 India Council Lifetime Achievement Award.

The generosity of giving time, talent, and yes, treasure!

Dr. Noel N. Schulz (Noel) knows a thing or two when it comes to supporting causes that benefit humanity in an impactful and sustainable way. Top of Noel’s list of causes that get her support are those that bring life-changing sustainable development in the form of electrification, education and empowerment opportunities to people, especially women and young girls, who live in power-impoverished remote communities around the globe.

Dr. Noel N. Schulz is pictured with villagers in Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India

Think of these causes as the trifecta of empowerment, or if you like, the analogy of the tide (in this case electricity) that lifts all boats (or remote communities if you like).

Noel is a university educator with more than 26 years of teaching experience in power systems engineering.  Intertwined during her career in academia, you find Noel’s leadership serving IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES), serving as President, Treasurer and Secretary. Over the past 26 years, Noel has witnessed energy impoverishment in remote settings in India and sub-Saharan Africa where limited sustainable development opportunities are a reality of life for villagers.

Noel became aware of IEEE Smart Village when the program was first getting underway, and over the past 10+ years, she has followed its progress closely as the program and measurable impact has scaled.   “It is amazing to see all the lives touched by IEEE Smart Village projects and volunteers by providing technology solutions and electric power to villages worldwide.  Lights, fans, mobile phone charging stations, refrigeration and more have changed lives.”

Already a loyal supporter of various IEEE PES philanthropic causes, Noel decided in 2015 to begin funding IEEE Smart Village in a somewhat unique way.  Each and every month, Noel makes an automatic distribution from her checking account to the IEEE Smart Village Fund, administered by IEEE Foundation.  Noel’s monthly donations are for unrestricted use by IEEE Smart Village.

Noel desired to make an impactful difference for IEEE Smart Village through her philanthropy.  She also knew that her and her husband Kirk’s other charitable commitments, would make it challenging to make a one-time donation at the level that they desired.  Knowing that unrestricted contributions are considered the ‘life-blood’ of any charitable organization, they embarked on making the automatic monthly donation through her financial institution.

“It is amazing to see how a smaller monthly amount adds up over time.  For example, a $200 monthly gift is almost $10000 in four years, a bigger impact.  Additionally, it provides a steady stream of funding support for IEEE Smart Village.  Giving in this way is convenient and makes it easier to budget support of IEEE activities. I wish others who find IEEE Smart Village worthy of their support, begin to contribute in this manner too. The automated feature established by IEEE Foundation makes it very user friendly.  My husband Kirk and I have made 80 monthly contributions to IEEE Foundation in support of IEEE Smart Village and other causes through this process and plan to continue until we retire.”

Noel and her husband Kirk are members of IEEE Heritage Circle Cumulative Giving program – Nikola Tesla level.

To learn more about ways to donate to IEEE Smart Village Fund, send an email to donate@ieee.org or call +1 732-562-3915.  To make a donation online, visit: Smart Village Donation .

For more information on IEEE Smart Village, visit:

Website: https://smartvillage.ieee.org/

4-Minute Video: https://smartvillage.ieee.org/

Volunteer Info: https://smartvillage.ieee.org/join-us/


The picture shared on top depicts Dr. Noel N. Schulz with villagers in Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India.  Two smart grid technology solutions were installed including storage, relevant to India and United States (US), the US Department of Energy (DOE), and Department of Science and Technology (DST) through Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) New Delhi, India. The project involved 15 US consortia partners, led by Washington State University (WSU) and 14 Indian partners led by Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK).  More information on the project can be found at: UI-ASSIST (uiassist.org)

IEEE Smart Village, a Multi-Society Program
IEEE Smart Village has been in existence since 2010, even though it has gone through some name changes. Ray Larsen solicited the support of the IEEE Nuclear Plasma and Sciences Society (NPSS) and Robin Podmore solicited the support of the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) to create a multi-society program supporting IEEE Smart Village’s three pillars of (renewable) energy, education, and entrepreneurship. IEEE Smart Village gained support from other societies and the IEEE Foundation over the years along with the strong support of the late Patrick Ryan, executive director of PES. Pat was so supportive of IEEE Smart Village that he found a home for IEEE Smart Village within the PES and helped support IEEE Smart Village through the PES staff, including Mike Wilson as the Senior Program Manager for IEEE Smart Village.

Pedro Ray, past IEEE President, chaired the governing board from its inception in 2020, and his term expired on December 31, 2021. IEEE Smart Village Governing Board just elected Fernando Guarin (IEEE Electron Devices Society) as the new chair and Avoki Omekanda (IEEE Industry Applications Society) as the new vice-chair.  The Governing board will be electing a new secretary after the first meeting of the year.


Fernando Guarin

Vice Chair:

Avoki Omekanda




(1) Computer Society CS

Cecilia Merta

(2) Electron Devices Society EDS

Fernando Guarin

(3) Council on Superconductivity CSC

Bruce Strauss

(4) Industrial Applications Society IAS

Avoki Omekanda

(5) Industrial Electronics Society IES

Morgan Kiani, Herb Hess

(6) Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society NPSS

Jane Lehr

(7) Photonics Society PS

Carmen Menoni

(8) Power and Energy Society PES

Ramakrishna Kappagantu

(9) Reliability Society RLS

Carol Graas

(10) Systems Man & Cybernetics Society SMCS

Ljiljana Trajkovic

(11) Technology and Engineering Mgmt. TEMS

Andy Chen

(12) IEEE Foundation IEEEF

Joe Lillie

(13) Management Committee Chair

John Nelson

(14) Management Committee at Large

Ed Rezek

(15) In-country ISV project entrepreneur SVE
Renewable Energy Innovators – Cameroon

Jude Numfor (REI-C)

(16) In-country ISV project entrepreneur SVE 2
Africa Development Promise

Monica LaBiche-Brown

(17) Robotics and Automation Society

Dominick Boesl

(18) Antennas and Propagation Society

Weng Chew

The primary purpose of the IEEE Smart Village multi-society/council governing board is to provide opportunities for members of each society and council to provide volunteer support to IEEE Smart Village. IEEE’s mission is “Advancing Technology for Humanity.”  IEEE Smart Village strongly supports this motto.

While IEEE Smart Village is a program to provide IEEE members and others an opportunity to volunteer their support, we also need and receive financial support from the IEEE Foundation along with discretionary funding from our member societies and council. In 2021, IEEE Smart Village received substantial society support from NPSS, PES, IAS, SMCS, and IES designated to specific projects and programs. IAS made a significant contribution by designating all of its 2021 year-end 50% Spend Fund money to IEEE Smart Village.

In 2022, my goal is to invite all of the IEEE Councils and Societies to join the IEEE Smart Village Governing Board. Each society and council have members with unique technological expertise needed to support IEEE Smart Village programs to bring productive use of electricity to the roughly one billion people in remote areas of the world to give them light and income making opportunities. IEEE is not a pay-to-play program in that no financial commitment is required by any society, council or volunteer. All that is needed is a desire to provide technical and volunteer support to the IEEE Smart Village Program. Please go to smartvillage@ieee.org to learn more about IEEE Smart Village and how you might participate.

John P. Nelson

– IEEE Smart Village President

IEEE Smart Village (ISVx) held its first Student Paper Contest at IEEE PowerAfrica Conference 2021
The IEEE Smart Village Africa Working Group (ISVx-AWG) held its first student technical paper competition on “Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Africa – Technology, Applications, Benefits and Challenges” at the IEEE Power Africa Conference (PAC) 2021. Hence, the ISVx-AWG Education Committee organized the 2021 ISVx Student Paper Competition.

The IEEE Smart Village Africa Working Group (ISVx-AWG) held its first student technical paper competition on “Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Africa – Technology, Applications, Benefits and Challenges” at the IEEE Power Africa Conference (PAC) 2021. Hence, the ISVx-AWG Education Committee organized the 2021 ISVx Student Paper Competition. The ISVx-AWG Education Committee made its first call for paper contest on May 10, 2021 with a submission deadline on July 22, 2021. The call attracted 29 paper submissions from Algeria, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia. The paper contest was classified into two categories; Category A was comprised of undergraduate & postgraduate student papers, and Category B was comprised of high school student papers. Category A received papers from 12 bachelor’s, four master’s, two PhD and one post-doctorate students. On other hand, the category B received papers from nine high school students.

The papers were professionally analyzed. The reviewing team was led by Dr. Omowunmi Mary Longe (Secretary, Education Committee ISVx – AWG) and Prof. Avoki Omekanda (Chair, Education Committee ISVx – AWG). Final results for the ISVx Student technical Paper Contest were presented at the 2021 IEEE PES/IAS Power Africa Conference held between August 23rd through 27th, 2021. The conference was expected to be held in person at Kenya, Nairobi, however, it was conducted virtually due to COVID-19 situation.

First place – Category A winners: from left, Mathew Nana Kyei Siaw, Elizabeth Ayaw Oduro-Koranteng, and Yaw Obeng Okofo Dartey

The winners in the Category A were Mathew Nana Kyei Siaw, Elizabeth Ayaw Oduro-Koranteng, and Yaw Obeng Okofo Dartey (First Position) from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana with an average score of 81%, Alberta Ogbo Dadeboe, Lydia Asare Bediako, and Godfred Atinkum (Second Position) also from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana with an average score of 71.5%; and Reginald Ekene Ogu (Third Position) from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria with an average score of 69.5%. The Category B winners were Michael Solomon Wassyihun (First Position) with an average score of 73.5% from Gibson Youth Academy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Beza Assefa Negassa (Second Position) with an average score of 53.5% also from Gibson Youth Academy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Second place – Category A winners: from left, Lydia Asare Bediako, Godfred Atinkum and Alberta Ogbo Dadeboe

Third place – Category A winner: Reginald Ekene Ogu

Third place – Category B winner: Michael Solomon Wassyihun – coming soon. . . 

The 2021 ISVx student paper contest was a great success despite that it was the first technical paper contest in the history of the IEEE Smart Village Africa Working Group (ISVx-AWG). During the award ceremony of the student paper contest, Engr. Abdullateef Aliyu (Vice Chair, ISVx-AWG) commented that once again, the students have proven that Africa has a wealth of leaders in various areas if nurtured and guided to manifest to its ultimate potential. He also appreciated the dedicated efforts of volunteers, to whom he was very grateful, who made the student paper contest a success. He further appreciated Frank Lambert of blessed memory, the past IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) president, Prof. Wei-Jen Lee, President, IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS) and Jessica Brian the IEEE PES Vice President for their support to the student paper contest.

John Nelson, President, IEEE Smart Village also thanked all the participants in the first IEEE Smart Village/Power Africa Student Paper Contest, and commended Dr. O.M. Longe for setting up the first ISVx student branch in the world at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and her team for putting together the first student paper contest. John Nelson further said, “I am a strong believer in education and am proud that each of you have decided to write a paper. Early in my career, I was the IEEE Denver Section’s Student Activities Chair. Each year, we would hold a student paper contest among the six engineering colleges and universities in the Denver Section Area. I found that this provided excitement among the various IEEE Student Branch Chapters and the competition was fierce. We had judges for the written paper and each student had the opportunity to present his/her paper which was also judged. The results of the competition were announced at an evening dinner. My goals are to ultimately do the same thing in future conferences where we can meet in person.”

IEEE Smart Village has also been given the challenge to set up an IEEE Smart Village student branch in each technical college and university in Africa. Currently, the ISVx leadership has successfully set almost five ISVx student branches as a pilot project in South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and other African countries. According to the President of IEEE Smart Village, John Nelson, the purpose of ISVx student branches is to help prepare the student for real life engineering experiences.

The 2021 ISVx Student Paper Contest is a success story because the leadership of ISVx-AWG took a great role through its ISVx-AWG Education Committee, Marketing Committee, Publicity Committee, and 2021 IEEE PES/IAS PAC committee to develop, organize and execute this initiative. The ISVx-AWG Education Committee is committed to reach to all African countries by encouraging African students to participate in ISVx programmes such as technical paper contests and ISVx student branches. The ISVx-AWG Education Committee is expecting increased number of student participation from all African countries in future ISVx student programs.

Talek Youth Friendly Center Launched
The Maa Trust (TMT) with other cooperating partners recently launched the Talek Youth Friendly Center in the Maasai Mara, Kenya tailored at empowering the youth in the area.

The Talek Youth, being representative of the Maasai Mara youth, are facing serious challenges, which include child marriages, child labor, gender-based violence, early pregnancy, female genital mutilation, low education levels, and underemployment among others. Unemployment amongst youth in the Maasai Mara is estimated at 80%, and this is even higher for women.

During the launch of the hub, the community Health Partner Dr. John Sankok shared statistics of Narok County within the Masaai Mara that recorded 15,542 pregnancy cases in 2020 alone involving young girls between the ages 10 and 19.

Since 2021, the health center is caring for 115 young mothers under the age of 19 through the antenatal and postnatal health services. It also recorded 21 cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV). The establishment of the Talek Health Center is intended to tackle most of the challenges that are faced by the youth of the Mara.

The Talek Youth Friendly Center is aimed at empowering that Maasai youth through four pillars:

  • Education, career guidance and capacity building
  • Confidential access to counselling and medical services
  • Peer mentorship
  • Economic Empowerment

Presently, 48 peer mentors by TMT are allocated to support adolescents in nine villages and 13 schools. The peer mentors support the adolescents through mentorship, career guidance, confidence building, basic counseling and sexual reproductive health and rights training.

During term times, this is done in schools, and in the school holidays, village-based youth workshops are held. Each mentor is assigned mentees to support and guide through their adolescence. The YFC is a safe place for the youth for the Mara as it provides the necessary health and psychosocial support services for all youth and adolescents (under 35 years of age). This is the first time that youth and adolescents in the Maasai Mara are able to receive age-appropriate medical services in a private and confidential setting.

YTFC Staff dancing during the launch

With the support from all partners, the youth of Talek were very excited about the holistic package of services and opportunities that the Youth Friendly Center will provide to address the four pillars.

These include:

1. Accredited ICT training through the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) curricula.
The Maa Trust’s new IT teacher started recently, and from January she will be running ICDL courses from the Pat Ryan IT Hub at the TYFC. The TYFC will be the first accredited ICDL Center in Narok District.

Career guidance – in afternoons, the Pat Ryan IT Hub will be open for career guidance drop INS and training workshops. This will focus on career identification, application to tertiary training institutions and scholarships, resume and cover letter writing, work readiness skills and interview preparation. According The Maa Trust CEO Crystal Mogensen, such programmes are only possible because of the support of generous partners, and IEEE Smart Village that has been a critical partner for the The Maa Trust and the youth empowerment project. The Maa Trust looks forward to seeing the impact of this project over the next few years. “We would like to sincerely thank IEEE Smart Village and their partners for holding our hand on this journey – thank you from the bottom of our hearts, you are transforming the lives of disadvantaged youth in remote corners all over the world, including here in the Maasai Mara.”

For contributions towards many of such projects in memory of Pat Ryan, visit IEEE Smart Village via the following online page : https://www.ieeefoundation.org/PatrickRyan

2. AJIRA Digital programhttps://ajiradigital.go.ke is a government program, which will train ToTs and youth and will provide opportunities for them to access dignified work online through the Center. The TYFC will be the first registered AJIRA Digital Centre in the Maasai Mara.

3. Psychosocial support – provides psychosocial support to children, youth and adolescents. The services will be based at the TYFC services two days a week.

4. Age-appropriate medical services – TMT is coordinating a specific training for Community Health Partners (CHP) and Ministry of Health staff across the Maasai Mara in age-appropriate medical services and referrals. This will ensure that adolescents and youth are able to receive the necessary services in a confidential and accessible way, and cases of gender-based violence, child abuse or sexual abuse occurring across the Mara will be referred to the TYFC for specialist treatment, services and psychosocial support.

The TYFC will be a secondary hub for Maa Trust activities, especially those focused on youth empowerment. For example, capacity building and enterprise training workshops will be coordinated through the center, including entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise development.

As for the Talek youth, they intend to make the most of the opportunities through the TYFC. They are committed to reaching to a wider community through the peer-mentorship program.

The planning and implementation of the TYFC was a joined effort by The Maa Trust (TMT), Talek Youth, and CHP in liaison with the State Department for Youth, The Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs. The event was conducted at the TYFC on CHP grounds, on the November 12, 2021.

The 9th IEEE PES & IAS PowerAfrica Conference (PAC 2022) will be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda by the Kigali Collaborative Research Centre (KCRC) from August 22 to 26, 2022. The conference website can be accessed at https://ieee-powerafrica.org

The 9th IEEE PES & IAS PowerAfrica Conference (PAC 2022) will be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda by the Kigali Collaborative Research Centre (KCRC) from August 22 to 26, 2022. The conference website can be accessed at https://ieee-powerafrica.org

The conference theme is Convergence of National and Off-Grid Systems: Roles of Renewables, Productive Use, and Electric Mobility.
PowerAfrica is sponsored by the Power and Energy Society (PES), Industrial Applications Society (IAS) and endorsed by the IEEE Africa Council.

It is a leading conference on the African continent focused on addressing its power and energy challenges. The conference provides a forum for researchers, engineers, policy makers and practitioners from Africa and beyond to share and discuss research findings, innovative ideas, emerging technologies, and solutions to pressing challenges in the African energy sector.

We invite researchers who work outside of the continent to come learn from the energy innovations emanating from Africa and share innovations and experience from other regions of the world.

The Call for Papers invites papers on the following thematic areas:

  • Harmonizing grid- and off-grid systems
  • Regional interconnection and renewables integration
  • Nexus of electricity and other infrastructure systems
  • e-Mobility
  • Data science applications to power systems in Africa
  • Global knowledge sharing and innovation on decentralized energy systems

The types of paper submissions invited are as follows:

  • Full papers
  • Short papers
  • Postgraduate forum papers

For up-to-date information on the call for papers and the paper submission process, please visit: https://ieee-powerafrica.org/ call-for-papers and for specific inquires, E-mail: pac2022@easychair.org

IEEE Smart Village will continue to cohost a series of parallel events at the PowerAfrica Conference and encourages its members to participate in the paper writing and share their experiences on the above topics in the power and energy sector.

Important links you don’t want to miss!

Not an IEEE Member? Here’s how to join IEEE https://www.ieee.org/membership/join/index.html

Click here to learn more about IEEE membership and special discounts for developing nations and low-income economies at https://www.ieee.org/membership/join/emember-countries.html

For more information about discounts for societies, check out the following link: https://www.ieee.org/communities/societies/index.html

For contributions towards many of such projects in memory of Pat Ryan, visit IEEE Smart Village via the following online page : https://www.ieeefoundation.org/PatrickRyan



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