A message from James Tinjum

Energy professionals, friends, colleagues, students, and lovers of renewable energy:

I am excited to launch this Solar Para Niños website to initiate a discussion on solar energy in Wisconsin, our nation and beyond. Students in the UW-Madison Sustainable Systems Engineering graduate degree program and the UW-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders and I will be contributing to this blog site in the year ahead.

Solar Para Niños is a partnership project between UW-Madison Engineers Without Borders (EWB), the Puerto Rico Relief Fund of South-Central Wisconsin (PRRFSCW) and graduate students in the Sustainable Systems Engineering (SSE) distance degree plan at UW-Madison.

We will plan, design, raise funds and install a distributed solar system (15-kW to 35-kW system, pending site assessment) at a non-profit shelter for physically abused children in Puerto Rico – Hogar Albergue para Niños Jesús de Nazaret – which is located outside of Mayaguez and near the Bella vista Hospital.

  • The mission of the home is to provide shelter, food, transportation, health, education, recreation, social and psychological services to children who are victims of abuse, referred by the Department of the Family.
  • It serves newborns to 11 year-olds, and is licensed to serve 14 children. Currently it hosts eleven 3- to 9-year olds and three infants.
  • The Board of Directors supports the efforts and the cost of running the shelter with paid staff. At the moment, it is run with a 24-hour rotating staff of 21 employees. Having paid staff extends the shelter’s ability to help 21 additional families that depend on the salaries and benefits offered.Currently, the shelter pays about $1,000 a month in energy costs. The installation of solar panels through #SolarParaNiños is expected to cut the cost in half, allowing the center to invest more money in helping the children.
  • With this installation, the center’s energy costs will drop significantly – our goal is to reduce their typical $1,000 monthly utility bill by at least half and, hopefully, by 90% – allowing the center to invest more of their money into helping the kids.

To accomplish these goals, our phase-one, project-specific fund-raising goal is $80,000 by September 1st. Our goal is largely to accomplish this through the efforts of the PRRF-SCW, UW EWB, and corporate and private matching donations.

The project involves lots of UW students and promotes not only learning by doing but also the promotion of awareness of engineering and disaster response, infrastructure resiliency, and sustainable energy system design.

If you liked my BikeTheWind.wordpress.com blog, this site will be in the same vein and narrative.  I will be biking 2000 km beginning on July 27th to raise funds for Solar Para Niños and to raise awareness of solar energy and sustainability in the Upper Midwest.



James M. Tinjum, PE, PhD
Associate Professor, Program Director – Environmental and Energy Geotechnics
Associate Chair – Department of Engineering Professional Development
University of Wisconsin-Madison