By Kelsi Ortega – What happens when a William Jewell College student is faced with a problem? She solves it. That was the case for Conner Hazelrigg, an aspiring electrical engineer who is currently a senior math and physics major at Jewell. While working for Sunshine Electronic Display LLC in Saint Joseph, Missouri, this past summer, Conner’s academic advisor, D. Blane Baker, Ph.D., presented Hazelrigg with the problem. The project was to create a solution that would allow travelers the ability to charge their cell phones in remote locations.
Hazelrigg came up with the idea for a solar powered cell phone charger, which can charge up to ten phones simultaneously while remaining completely portable. The solar powered charger enables phones to charge at the same rate as a traditional wall plug. Over the summer, Hazelrigg and the team, which included Dr. Baker and Mark Buhlig, a frequent traveler to Haiti and friend of Dr. Baker, installed three chargers in Haiti and have plans to produce 20 more to sell. When asked what her hopes for the project were, Hazelrigg stated, “My hopes for this project are to create a sustainable business for the benefit of community development. We are selling these boxes with the intentions of taking a percentage of the profit to put towards a community grant fund. We would like communities to be able to apply for this funding with their community projects ideas that are in need of monetary support. These communities could be local, regional, national, or international. We obviously want this to be successful, but we would really like to impact as many people as possible by providing help in any way we can.”
Regarding the project’s timeline, Hazelrigg and the team are hoping to implement the project as quickly as possible. They have encountered logistic problems because of location and time, but with three chargers already installed, the team is confident additional progress will occur quickly. The team has received multiple offers from people in Kansas City and Haiti who are interested in purchasing the product. The team’s main target groups are communities in remote places where electricity is unstable or not present.