Laid off Calgary engineers build windmills for Tanzania

Jason Ho, Adam Broniewski and Azan Jamal are using their engineering talents to create windmills in Tanzania.
A group of laid off Calgarians are engineering new ways to be useful in the world.

While the city’s economy remains in a whirlwind state, Jason Ho is working with the U.N. to design windmills for Tanzania.

Ho was laid off from his job in October, and was looking for a way to do something useful with his time, and his engineering skills, so he hopped on the U.N. volunteer website.

There he found out about the situation in Tanzania, where infrastructure is needed to irrigate land and pull up drinking water.

“Right now, they’re using ropes and buckets and sometimes these wells go down 200 feet into the ground,” he said. “They’re drinking from untreated well water.”

The windmill will work like a pump, helping the people there substantially.

Ho was paired up with a few other engineers from Calgary, including Adam Broniewski, Alex Yuen and Azan Jamal, whose grandmother grew up near the region where the windmills will eventually go.

The Calgary engineers are trying to make the designs and simple and straightforward as possible, to make them easy and safe to construct. They’re looking at things like blade angle, pressure calculations and how much concrete to pour.

They’re also adding to contributions from engineers in a few different countries from around the world – making these windmills a true international effort of brain power.

“There are lot of smart people who ended up being laid off,” said Ho. “This was just a chance for us to do something a bit more meaningful and use these skills somewhere else.”

Once the designs are finalized and the windmills are built, Ho plans on visiting Tanzania, to see the fruits of his labour in-person.