Tech Thoughts

Energy Conversion Starts Making Sense

I just came to realize that my most hated subject at the moment, EE204: Energy Conversion,[1] in which I have flunked my exams 2 out of 2, would be useful to me as an aspiring Electronics Engineer. At first, as an ECE student, I thought I’m not going to need this course since I’m not planning to specialize in electric power generation that EEs should be doing.

While browsing through blogs and tech news sites like I usually do, I’ve read about emerging technologies that deals with the use of hand cranks and similar manually-operated power generators, instead of the conventional way of plugging devices onto a power outlet. I’ve also read about environmental issues concerning electric power consumption and conservation with computer and even search engine usage.

We still haven’t gone to discuss DC generators as we are just halfway through the course. But, seeing how the OLPC plans to make human-powered laptop computers by means of a crank, a pedal or a pull-cord in the form of XO-1 to be distributed to children on developing countries who have little access to electricity, I got the insight. Furthermore, I just saw a portable media player utilizing the same idea, thanks to Bernie of Talkin’ Tech.

I know I shouldn’t have been posting this now as our preliminary exam week is just a day away, and the exam on EE204 is first on the list. I am just happy to see current applications of what I am studying theoretically as it gives me more understanding of the subject matter.

So, let me just ask, what would you say about manually-powered electronic devices that use less power than conventional ones? Would you be seen using it in the future or you would just stick to conventional devices until none of them exists anymore? Hand cranks and pedal generators on the nearest Wi-Fi–enabled coffee shop, anyone?


  1. ^ a course dealing with the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy (as with generators) and vice versa (as with motors)