On Thursday, August 21st, our team welcomed President Alejandro Toledo of Peru, his wife Ms. Eliane Karp and advisors, Dr. Richard Swanson, founder of SunPower, and a few other guests to our shop in an historic outreach opportunity made possible by Labiba of Stanford’s KZSU radio station. This unique KZSU Modern Tek News radio interview sought to explore how STEM students, political, and technological leaders can work together to promote sustainable development.
Dick Swanson of SunPower arrived early in his red Model S, and the Presidential convoy arrived in three vehicles, with President Toledo and his wife, plus Peruvian Stanford students and technical experts close to the President. Everyone was very charismatic and the team was excited to exchange handshakes.
We gave a good, brief presentation on our team and car in the lobby and gave a tour. President Toledo drove Luminos and we took advantage of the photo opportunities.
For the radio interview, we gathered around the large conference table and proceeded to hear Labiba ask the two Presidents a few questions. Dr. Swanson gave his vision solar in the future, predicting that solar-made biofuels may eventually replace the current fossil-fuels we use.
A few people in the room, including Mr. Swenson, the founder of the Mexican UNAM solar car team from the 90s–a peer of Dr. Swanson during the early WSC days, offered their own comments on solar technology and explained what they were each working on. Mr. Swenson is working with San Jose State on a suspended mass-transit solar vehicle. Luis Yañez, one of President Toledo’s technical advisors, revealed he’s working on 24/7 solar without batteries or solar cells with his company Terrajoule Corp.
President Toledo’s speech on his vision of solar and his vision for Peru was long and heartfelt. He really is a unique president. As the eight oldest of sixteen siblings in which seven children died during childhood, President Toledo made it clear to us that his rise to the presidency was a very rare thing. I remember him saying that in Peru, 85% of the people look just like him–native from the Andes. I could tell he was a man of the people—what an inspiration.
President Toledo, interested in solutions for Peru, admitted that he wasn’t “too hot” about our race-built solar car (it’s okay, we understand!) but nonetheless expressed a lot of excitement and hope that in the process of its development might find inspiration for other technologies and solutions. Above all, our team showed President Toledo that students can do incredible things. He wants to build scientific cities in Peru–bastions of STEM and innovation, and he thinks students like us, working hands-on with such projects and pushing for innovation, are key to their success. He’s got a huge opportunity ahead of him if he is elected again in 2016 because Peru is developing and growing rapidly.
The team offered food and refreshments, photo opportunities, a drive in Luminos, and the customary business card. We were offered an invitation to visit Peru and the incredibly unique experience to speak face-to-face with such renowned guests.
Our sincerest gratitude goes out to President Toledo of Peru, Dr. Swanson of SunPower, and Labiba of Stanford’s own KZSU radio station for making this possible. We wish you all luck in your future pursuits!