To Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Calgary, it seems that when it rains, it pours. Only weeks after his Light Up the World Foundation was awarded a $100,000 U.S. for international development by Rolex, his group was honoured with two additional prizes. One of the prizes came with $50,000 U.S.; the other carried extraordinary sentimental value.
Three members of the LUTW executive committee, including Dr. Irvine-Halliday, travelled to San Jose, CA, last week for the 2002 Tech Museum Awards Gala.
"Quite frankly, I was shocked," said Dr. Irvine-Halliday of his reaction when his organization was named as the recipient of the award. "I just thought it was too much to ask: winning two major awards in such a short time frame.
I was so convinced that we weren't going to win that I hadn't bothered to make up any sort of a speech, so I ended up going up, thanking as many people as I could remember, and then taking off before they could change their minds!"
Closer to home, at the same time as the professor stood speechless in front of his colleagues, his wife Jenny was in Calgary accepting the U of C President's Internationalization Achievement Award on her husband's behalf.
These awards are given annually to recognize the achievements of students, staff, faculty and alumni who make a difference in the international community.
"Receiving awards from the Tech and Rolex is certainly something, but there's something satisfying about being recognized by your own institution," said Dr. Irvine-Halliday. "I am extremely proud of being part of the U of C and I hope that Light Up the World will have a relationship with this institution for many years to come."
The foundation's work involves installing inexpensive, efficient, robust lighting systems based on white light emitting diodes in developing countries where large-scale distribution systems for electricity are not feasible. The long-term goal is to provide a means for children in places like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tibet to learn to read at night. According to Dr. Irvine-Halliday, the receipt of these awards will help the organization adapt to meet the tremendous demand that has emerged for their work.
"We have a huge number of opportunities: I just blink and 60 e-mails seem to appear out of nowhere from people in need," he said. "The most important thing that we have learned is that in order to tackle this huge number of opportunities, we must beef up our administration. We basically need four full-time administrators and one full-time technician. Ideally, Light Up the World will function with the same efficiency as a well-run business, in that everyone is able to do what they do best in the least amount of time possible."
Interested parties can find more information about Light Up the World at http://www.lutw.org.
Rolex Awards for Enterprise:http://www.rolexawards.com
The Tech Museum Awards: http://techawards.thetech.org/
President's Internationalization Achievement Awards: