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posted Apr 11, 2012, 3:12 PM by Thomas Geissmann   [ updated May 18, 2012, 3:03 PM ]
Blogger: Jun Baclay

Understand the Meaning

The statement "understand the meaning" seems obvious and self-explanatory. This is a statement that most of us take for granted due to its simplicity.
I am in great debt to my teacher and Master Sensei, Dr. Akio Shiota [JICA Expert and Consultant], for giving importance to the statement "understand the meaning" when I and other engineers participated in his training on Solar PV System in Pangan-an Island way back in 2005. Ever since, this has become my battle cry when I'm at work: whether monitoring/inspecting/trouble-shooting systems in the field or teaching.
The statement is a useful tool for thinking when one monitors and inspects a system, whether it's solar, hydro, or any other system under the sun.
For instance, imagine yourself in a remote island inspecting a solar home system (SHS). Armed with a multi-meter, you visit a house with an SHS. You look inside and observe. You begin measuring and recording data. Then you ask yourself, "is system OK or not OK?". The answer lies in understanding the meaning of the numbers you see.
"Learn to think by yourself", says Sensei Shiota.
Yes, simple statements, are key to unleashing the power of our brains. Simply asking "WHY" when you're at work switches "ON" the brain.
It's so fulfilling when one finds -- through determined questioning, searching, experimenting -- the answer. This is like discovery. When you discover knowledge through your own effort, it stays permanently. Same as when we learned to ride a bike. We felt great achievement for being able to balance. Our confidence bloated. Increased. And it's difficult to unlearn what you've learned in years.
Similarly, it is very difficult to correct misunderstanding. When misunderstanding about something lived in our brain for many years, it's very difficult to unlearn. That's why we need to be careful when we take in information. We have to weight what people say, for instance about renewable energy systems. When in doubt, consult the experts who are certified or have proven track records. But before asking, try to find the answer yourself. Make 100% effort, and don't surrender.

Learn about Renewable Energy

There is much to learn in the field of renewable energy and rural electrification. We are in the information age. Information can be obtained in split second from the internet. But real knowledge is in the field, in actual projects. For instance, to learn about solar energy, you need to go out and visit solar installations. There are many in Cebu. One is the centralized solar PV system in Pangan-an Island, Lapu lapu City, Cebu. Moreover, I know of four solar PV pumping stations in Cebu province alone. The one in Alegria is operational. The other 3 PV pump stations [Borbon, Boljoon, and Liloan] have technical problems. Villages with SHS are also not so far: one in Alumar, Getafe, Bohol, while another in Gibitngil, Medellin, Cebu.
So when you happen to be a renewable energy engineer [or aspire to become one], do not forget the opening statement: "Understand the Meaning". This will help activate your thinking and become better in trouble shooting and analysis.