Biking the Country, Lighting the World

UCSB Professor Completes Grueling Mountain Bike Ride, Raises Awareness for Education Non-Profit

His impressive journey was but a step in an even greater quest: to bring light to the 1.4 billion people around the world living without electricity. Bowers, a professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UCSB, is also founder of the organization Unite to Light, which distributes low-cost solar-powered desk lights to people living without electricity in disadvantaged countries.

Since Bowers co-founded the organization in 2010, Unite to Light has distributed 65,000 lights to 65 countries on four continents, reaching places as far as Japan, Haiti, Ghana, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. Bowers was inspired to found the organization while meeting with Dr. Osei Darkwa, a visiting professor from Ghana. As they discussed the work being done by the Institute for Energy Efficiency and the work of energy innovators Shuji Nakamura and Alan Heeger, Dr. Darkwa asked Bowers, “Why don’t you do something good for the world?”

“I thought that was pretty cool,” Bowers says of the conversation.

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