|Mr. Raj Vable grew up in a small town in Michigan and received his B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In his senior year, he began working with a school in his mother’s ancestral village to power their computer lab with solar electricity. After working on the project for two years, he entered the University of Oregon’s environmental studies master’s degree program. Since then, he has been working with Avani, a Himalayan NGO, on the development of their pine needle gasification program. As a Fulbright fellow, he will work with Avani and the villages they serve to understand how a new type of cooking fuel--charcoal briquettes formed from pine needles--can improve the lives of rural Himalayan women.
Mr. Vable’s Fulbright research project, “Revealing the Social Benefits of Renewable Energy Technologies for Himalayan Women,” will examine how rural Indian women will be impacted by increased cooking energy access. He will collaborate with Himalayan women to film current cooking practices, which account for 90 percent of energy needs in mountainous communities. The results will be used to show how these women stand to gain from a new renewable energy technology being developed by a local NGO and provide a window into one of the world's most isolated cultures.