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Kaikai Wins Community Service Award

Moijue Kaikai

Mechanical engineering major Moijue Kaikai has been selected for a UMass Amherst award by the Provost’s Committee on Service-Learning because of his array of community service activities during his undergraduate career at the university. “I am writing to congratulate you!” said John Reiff, the director of UMass Civic Engagement and Service-Learning. “You were nominated by [Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Professor] Erin Baker for an award, the Academic Engagement for Community Transformation Award, which recognizes your leadership, academic excellence, and contribution to a community.” Kaikai has been accepted for graduate school into the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program in the MIE department.

Among other accomplishments, Kaikai he has been a semifinalist in the Social Venture Challenge of the Clinton Global Initiative, he completed a summer research project aimed at giving Springfield Upward Bound students the education and skills to succeed in high school, and he presented a wind-energy workshop at the annual UMass Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference.

This fall Kaikai will enter the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program, started with a $3.2-million grant from the National Science Foundation in August of 2011. The goal of the program, whose principal investigator is Baker, is to create a community of researchers who understand the technological challenges, environmental implications, and socioeconomic and regulatory hurdles of offshore wind farms. The program will eventually train more than 30 doctoral students over the course of five years.

In 2013 Kaikai earned a trip to St. Louis by qualifying as a semifinalist in the Social Venture Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, founded by former President Bill Clinton “to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.” The invitation was based on an ambitious proposal to install photovoltaic solar panels at a school in Cape Verde, while also cultivating collaborative efforts between that school and local schools in Western Massachusetts. 

Kaikai hopes his Cape Verde Venture will provide the blueprint for a replicable, scalable strategy to effectively mitigate future global warming, while still expanding access to energy resources.

Kaikai has published a fundraising platform for his project through UMass Amherst Alum Pat Walsh and his Stay Classy organization after meeting him at this year's Clinton Global Initiative Conference. The link is: www.stayclassy.org/e4ecapeverde.

During the summer of 2013, Kaikai completed another project as part of his summer Research Experience for Undergraduates at the College of Engineering. Under the supervision of Professor Baker, Kaikai created a curriculum around sustainable energy for 40 students from the High School of Commerce in Springfield and its six-week Upward Bound summer program. The goal was to generate student interest and motivation in attending college and studying engineering. Kaikai also hopes to improve the Upward Bound students’ ability to excel in high school and college.

“Specifically,” said Kaikai, “we aim to improve communication through writing, discussions, and oral presentations; improve student skills in critical thinking and problem solving, especially engineering problem solving; and sharpen student skills in math and science. Various lesson plans will be framed around a hands‐on wind turbine project to achieve these objectives.”

Last October 28 Kaikai also guided an exercise in designing a wind turbine for over 300 female students, teachers, and guidance counselors from more than 33 high schools from Massachusetts and beyond for the annual Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference. The aim of this program is to excite, inspire, and encourage young women to pursue engineering as an academic track and career path. (June 2014)