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SolarCal

       Computer Engineering did not begin as my major of choice, but as an obligation to my father. It was the first programming class that I struggled most. Despite being treated unfairly as the only female student in class, I could not cede to achieve my father’s goal. Every night, I would lock myself in my room and studied C programming with tears. Just as I was going to confront my father about quitting, I saw him working on a calculation in Solar Energy at his office. Although those greek signs looked very confounded, I coded its functionalities to help him progress with his calculations. It was this programming class that brought me closer to understanding my father.

A year later, our little solar energy calculator turned into an alpha version software with 3 modules. It can calculate the luminosity of the sun in Thailand, predict world daylight irradiance, and calculate the right shading angle for one story eco-buildings. From our calculation, we found that the North Eastern part of Thailand will face drought every year during early June to August. Farmers struggled with irrigation and crop preservation. Upon visiting my father’s colleagues in that area, we had an opportunity to test our third module, the architecture module. Plugging in the estimated values, we designed a transparent plantation tunnel to control soil moisture as a prototype. After three weeks, the local farmer who tried our prototype reported a 50% increase in crop production compared to last year. He then helped other farmers in Mahasarakham province by installing our prototype in their land. Later that year, the project was selected by Bayer AG and United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) as one of the top five Alternative Energy Innovation and I was nominated to represent Thailand at the Germany headquarter. It was not the prize that motivated me to continue my studies, but to see the impact that this software could add to Thai farmers that was more rewarding. I have never thought I could come this far, but I have found my intrinsic motivation.

Role

  • Coded User Interface and Plotting functions in MatLab
  • Calculated Solar irradiance, solar illumination, and sun path
  • Designed geometrical function for architecture module

Impact

  • Helped farmers in the Northeaster part of Thailand build crop preservation prototype by controlling plant moisture during drought season.
  • Provided initial simulation for PV-cell installation and compatible power load.

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