SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Some Sacramento State students have come up with a bright idea: harnessing the power of the sun to bring light to those without electricity.

They’re working on a solar-powered generator, and plan to sent it to underdeveloped countries.

Not knowing if the power will stay on is something few of us ever worry about. But in an African village it’s something the people deal with every day.

A group of Sacramento State students may have found a solution, thanks to the sun.

It’s only the size of a large suitcase, but the solar-powered unit designed by the students is about to radically improve the lives of children living in a remote village in northern Uganda.

“It does seem like a small thing, but the impact is major,” said engineering student Matt Yamaski.

Major, because now at the Toggo International Children’s Center, each flick of the switch comes with a consequence.

“He has a choice: Work on his computer and manage the school, but if he does that the kids don’t have lights at night in their dormitory,” said engineering student Troy Miller.

He learned of the school’s dilemma through his church. He and his classmates also happened to need a senior project.

“This is a solvable problem, and we want to solve that problem,” he said.

The African school needs more than just power, but sustainable power. It has to be reliable and cheap, but also able to be built in Uganda.

“Our system will be able to track what’s going on in the system, and if it knows it’s not going to have enough power that refrigerator it will power off other things that are not necessary,” Miller said.

For a village that still struggles to find fresh water, these college students hope this is a first step to improving the lives of more than 1,000 children who are fighting starvation and disease every day.

“We can’t solve world poverty but what we can do is we can actually supply them electricity which is a huge step,” said engineering student Will Loria.

Now the students have the design, and are hoping to raise $18,000 so they can build three of the mini power grids for the school.

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