'Green' on the go: Vancouver engineer
travels third world promoting renewable energy
Apr 16, 2008 - Laura Mcvicker - The Columbian
- McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Vancouver, Wash. - During his overseas trips, Michel
Maupoux sleeps on classroom floors, makes a bed
in strangers' homes or takes a tent into a remote
village. For days, he lives without electricity.
At the same time, he teaches villagers how to
use solar energy to manufacture light or run water
pumps -- to do the exact thing he promises to live
It's all in a days' work for Maupoux, a Vancouver
resident and program manager for Green Empowerment,
a Portland nonprofit organization that promotes
and implements renewable energy sources in third-world
The engineer takes several trips throughout the
year to those countries, teaching engineers and
villagers how to use renewable energy. His most
recent three-week trip last month took him to Quito
and El Coca, Ecuador.
In El Coca, he conducted a seminar for other engineers
and villagers, and gave instructions on how to design
solar water pumps. During presentations, he taught
how to design, wire, operate and maintain a solar
He even took a solar panel outside to show his
students how electricity changes from different
positioning in the sun.
Most of his students, engineers from throughout
the country, already had solar energy projects.
"It was a matter of giving them details and answering
questions for further use," he said.
In Quito, he taught more of the same to village
technicians, focusing on how to design solar pumps
and showing how they distribute water throughout
villages. In many countries he visits, villagers
have limited access to water and must visit streams
miles away, he said.
"It's better for health. It's better for education,"
he said. "I enjoy being able to enable the country
to do something they just allocated money for."