Raymond S. Larsen
A true advocate of using technology as an aid to improving the human condition, Raymond S. Larsen’s community service initiatives have impacted the lives of needy people in impoverished countries around the world. The founder and current co-chair of the IEEE Community Solutions Initiative, Mr. Larsen’s concept for bettering disadvantaged communities goes beyond just providing supplies or finances. His method involves assisting local communities both financially and technically in creating small business opportunities that have growth potential within the communities that need the help. The goal of his team’s program is to demonstrate sustainable development of solar electricity through seed pilot projects run by community entrepreneurs who franchise mobile community charging stations with home light and portable battery kits. Mr. Larsen secured funding from the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society. With co-chair Robin Podmore from the IEEE Power & Energy Society, he formed a team of volunteers and industry professionals and set up corporate partnerships to engineer, design, develop, and deliver six SunBlazer mobile generator stations to an in-country NGO partner who deployed them in six communities in earthquake-devastated Haiti in 2011. Each station uses solar cells to charge 80 or more portable battery kits to power lights for two rooms for 3–4 days, charge cell phones, and run small appliances at lower cost than kerosene lamps and candles. Since that initial deployment, nine additional stations have been delivered to Haiti. The next-generation SunBlazer II has been delivered to Cameroon. The program has also been implemented in four countries in Africa, and startups are planned for India, South America, and Asia. The program, now expanding to include a unique community-based education model and global classroom delivery system, was recently adopted by the IEEE Foundation as a Signature Project and rebranded IEEE Smart Village. Mr. Larsen’s dedication has been integral to the program’s success in creating models of collaboration that will impact more and more people in need, and he has gained worldwide recognition of what IEEE can achieve.
An IEEE Life Fellow, Mr. Larsen is currently special projects engineering manager at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, Menlo Park, CA, USA.