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Light Up a Life, a Humanity Lab project

More Articles May 2024

Light Up a Life, a Humanity Lab project

What is Light Up a Life? 

Light Up a Life is an open source energy access initiative, whose goal is to provide energy access to those in need.Jose Alejandro Diaz Vides, Hydrogen System Engineer for Project Blue Condor and Project Leader of Light up a Life, explains: 

“Since the start of the project in 2019, more than 20 volunteers have touched the Light Up a Life project. Together with Airbus Helicopters, a new blade design and manufacturing process was proposed and a knowledge transfer to WindAid was carried out with a team of volunteers from La Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Minas in Medellin.

In 2022, the sponsorship of a three-month volunteer internship for the LAPLACE Laboratory and ENSEEIHT University in Toulouse was successfully completed. This action was made possible thanks to the commitment of both Airbus Community Impact Programs and Humanity Lab. Two WindAid wind turbines were installed in the community of Nuevo California, Peru. In addition, a new prototype electric generator concept was built on site. This allowed the team to understand local manufacturing constraints and see how the electrical machine could be adapted for easier use in the future. 

A very important pillar of the Light Up a Life Project is the educational workshops to ensure energy awareness among the youth. During the life of the project, two educational workshops have been held in Colombia and Peru.”

What makes the Project Light Up Lives are the volunteers who work in the project. The entire wind turbine system, the ongoing installation, and the educational workshops that are carried out together with our partner and main NGO WindAid, are thanks to the commitment of the volunteers that have been working in the project since its inception in 2019.

Santiago Marin, M.Sc. Engineering, Materials and Processes at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, was one of the first volunteers to work on the project: 

“For me, the project is about learning and applying science to help others. It is an incredible opportunity to apply or gain new knowledge while helping others. Ultimately, it's about making sure that technology goes beyond paper and becomes beneficial to people.

During our second visit to the Wayuu community in Colombia, we successfully installed solar panels on the local school. After gaining their trust, the community organized an event to thank our team, making us feel part of the community, and showed us their customs. We then officially inaugurated the electrical installation by turning on the school's lights. That night, I felt like we were really lighting up some lives….”

Now retired, Dominique Harribey, who was a research engineer from the CNRS and technical referent in the Laplace Laboratory, also keeps a good memory of his participation in Light Up a Life: 

"For us, this collaboration was first and foremost a social, humanitarian and environmental project for which our laboratory's research activities could provide a tangible solution.

An excellent memory is being able to send two students to Windaid's headquarters in Peru to help transfer the technology of a new generator concept and to help manufacture it using local technological resources.

I continue to believe that these very simple, light and easy to use electrical machines are one of the solutions when remote areas are permanently deprived of energy networks or to supply nomadic base camps during expeditions".

What about now? 

Since February 2024, the Light Up a Life project has resumed work on a new, more cost-effective electrical generator design and manufacturing process, as well as ensuring its safe integration and use. The current team is made up of new volunteers from across Airbus. 

We asked them what made them join this project and become volunteers for this cause? 

François Dunoyer, in charge of Mechanical Design:

"I like this project because I am learning and doing interesting things while giving my time and skills to help others. I like working on this project because it has meaning!"

Alexandre Colle, in charge of Electrical Generator Design:

"This project is important to me because it consists of doing the impossible: creating a powerful generator that is easy to manufacture. It is proof that great things can be achieved without wasting a lot of money".

Jose Urrego Aponte, Power electronic designer :

"Volunteering allows you to contribute to the community and help people in need. It can bring great personal satisfaction knowing that you are making a positive difference in the lives of others. 

On a personal level, it allows me to expand my circle of acquaintances while learning and participating in an interesting project where we can help people in need".

Romane Almairac, in charge of Mechanical Design : 

"I am excited to participate to make a positive impact! I am happy to work on a technical project that involves creativity, technology and teamwork, where I will learn more about wind turbine systems. It will allow me to work together around strong values and gain new skills while making a positive impact!

The “power” given by the Humanity Lab

The Light Up a Life project is supported at Airbus by Community Impact and was born in the Airbus Humanity Lab: a solidarity initiative where employees can participate in innovation projects and help create prototypes to support associations and NGOs. Since its creation in 2018, the Humanity Lab has focused on issues related to health, disability, the environment, education and humanitarian work. 

Today, Light Up a Life is still part of the Humanity Lab, among other projects that cover different aspects and offer volunteer opportunities.

For more information contact:
Lise Nadalin
Project & Communications Manager Humanity Lab