To address climate change caused by fossil fuel based electrification in developing countries, Dipti Vaghela is focusing her academic and career efforts to establish decentralized renewable energy programs for rural communities in India, using a participatory approach that facilitates beneficiaries to become aware of and take ownership of their region’s development.

Dipti’s interests in using sustainable technology to alleviate poverty and drudgery in developing communities was triggered by her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, her perspectives as a product design engineer in Silicon Valley, and her family’s roots in rural India. In pursuing a MS degree in Environmental Studies at San Jose State University, Dipti is doing applied research on micro hydro electrification in Orissa, India. In parallel with managing the renewable energy program at Gram Vikas (GV), a large grassroots NGO working in rural Orissa, Dipti is case studying community participation in GV’s micro hydro program. Her dual role as a researcher and practitioner helps her to understand socio-technical and institutional aspects of renewable energy applications, in order to trial a strategy that transforms isolated micro hydro projects into regional programs. The strategy involves facilitating NGOs to become community-driven, to implement projects in clusters of communities, and to influence rural electrification trends such that renewable energy is given priority over grid electricity produced from fossil fuels.

Dipti is a 2008 Switzer Foundation Fellow.



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