Designs for Hope looks to help developing countries

Chris Bond, electrical engineer and teacher at Hewitt-Trussville High School, wants to change the world for the better.

"You hear a lot of people say, 'be an engineer, you can make a lot of money," says Bond. "What I tell my students is, 'be an engineer and you can change the world."

After doing research and noticing how many developing countries don't have electricity, but rely heavily on bicycles for transportation, he got to thinking.

Bond says, "I saw this research that said how many people in Africa ride bikes and I thought, why can't we do something to provide them with power to developing countries."

It was that idea which inspired Bond to create Designs for Hope, a non-profit organization aimed at providing a rechargeable, sustainable energy source for developing countries. Bond explains, "(Developing countries) are already using that energy of using a bicycle. So harnessing that energy and storing it into a battery (will allow them to) take it into a home and have lights, have the ability to charge a cell phone."Bond says cell phones are commonly used in developing countries to connect villages. But, with no reliable electric grids, charging the cell phones can be problematic."If you're a farmer and want to talk to another farmer five kilometers away, instead of walking down there and asking them a question, you can call them on your cell phone and share information," says Bond. "Also, they do a lot of online banking, so they don't have to walk to the village to do banking or even buying seed. They use their cell phones for that."After Bond created the initial test product, he contacted ministries in several developing countries, including Uganda, Niger and Madagascar. Now, Bond has twelve units in the field that are currently being tested.

If the product is successful, Bond says the idea is to provide the bike generators for free. "We're providing technology for the poorest of the poor and offering them a better life," says Bond. "So that's our mission is to provide free of charge, technology to make their lives better."Bond encourages his students to come up with a problem and work toward a solution that could potentially change the world. "I'm challenging them to think outside of their realm, think outside of Trussville, think outside of Alabama to potentially help other people," says Bond.