SolarShip Design Exchange Internship

Solar Ship Design Exchange Internship

Photo: Solar Ship, Inc. Photo: Solar Ship, Inc. Background Expand

Solar Ship is a world leader in developing solar powered aerospace products including aerostats and airships. Solar Ship is based in Canada and was recently asked to develop a concept for connecting remote areas with medical supplies to manage the pandemic threat. Solar Ship works with Peace + Freedom, a global network of innovators and entrepreneurs with a mission to save lives and support entrepreneurs in remote areas and disaster zones. Africa has some of the most vulnerable populations for pandemic threats due to lack of infrastructure and supplies.

Internship Structure and Challenges addressed Expand

This was a summer internship that built teams under two themes, each with a distinct focus: The Peace team was responsible for designing systems to save lives; The Freedom team was responsible for designing systems to support entrepreneurs. Five motivated university students per team worked with Solar Ship to design systems for Malawi and Zambia using aerostats and mobile aerostats to deliver medical supplies and support economic activity at points of need. Aerostats are buoyant stationary platforms able to be rapidly deployed to provide wide area internet service. They carry critical cargo to points of need where infrastructure is not capable of meeting local needs.

Summer interns worked with mentors and specialists in COVID-19 diagnosis and
management, as well as global and local entrepreneurs who seek to keep the economy moving in times of crisis. The focal area was Malawi/Zambia where health and economic infrastructure are threatened by COVID-19 and other health crises. Malawi/Zambia are the precursor for deploying in more difficult regions including eastern DRC, Burundi and Madagascar. Technical aspects such as buoyancy management, electrical power requirements, solar power integration, and aerodynamic performance studies were key challenges faced by the teams in different stages throughout the program.


  • Patrick Ishimwe, BASc University of Toronto 
  • Jeff Mukuka, BASc University of Toronto 
  • Yongjie “Jenny” Li, BASc University of Toronto 
  • 19 students across Khalifa University, NYU Abu Dhabi, University of Zambia 
MattHeadshot Matt Jagdeo
Project Lead – Solar Ship Inc. Wadeema Wadeema
SolarShip Design Exchange Intern Laura Williams Head Shot Mohamed Mbarouk

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