08/18/16- Former MSU Professor Enrolls as Student at EMCC
By: East Mississippi Community College
MAYHEW, Miss. (NEWS RELEASE) — George Adebiyi co-wrote a book on thermodynamics, conducted research for NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center and served for two years as an associate technical editor for the ASME "Journal of Solar Energy Engineering."
On a day earlier this week Adebiyi, a professor emeritus at Mississippi State University, laughed as he explained the difficulty he had while trying to solder copper tubing during a class for the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) course he is taking at East Mississippi Community College.
"I am right-handed, so if I used that hand for the flames I had a problem using my left hand to put the solder where it needs to be," Adebiyi said.
While Adebiyi, 69, is intimate with the theory of thermodynamics, which describes the movement of heat, or in the case of air conditioning the removal of heat, he wasn't familiar with the nuts and bolts of how an air conditioning unit works. So he enrolled in the 11-month HVAC program at EMCC in hopes that he can use the information to better the lives of residents in his native homeland of Nigeria.
"One of the things I am interested in is solar-powered air conditioning," Adebiyi said. "Nigeria for the most part is hotter than Mississippi. It never snows. It is a hot, hotter and hottest type situation. There are immense possibilities about what can be done in Nigeria with solar air conditioning."
It is an idea that took root decades ago while Adebiyi was the proctor, similar to president, of a polytechnic university in Nigeria.
"At one point we applied for a grant for solar-assisted air conditioning," said Adebiyi, who earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manchester in England in 1973. "We got the money but some of the technical data we needed could not be found anywhere in Nigeria."
In 1984, Adebiyi was granted a year-long sabbatical to visit Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss. That visit would change his life.
"It brought home to me two things: one, how difficult it is to do useful research work because of lack of infrastructure in a place like Nigeria. And secondly, how green the opportunity was for pursuing meaningful research in America," Adebiyi said.
After finishing his year at Rust, Adebiyi was granted a post as a visiting faculty member at Mississippi State University and was awarded a full professorship in mechanical engineering after a couple of years. In 2010, Adebiyi retired from MSU after 25 years of service, although he still teaches a class there each summer.
He has retained close ties with his homeland, returning there a couple of times each year. In 2004, Adebiyi was awarded a Fulbright research grant to return to Nigeria for six months to work at Bowen University on solar energy research in the country that is widely reported as being plagued with sorely inadequate power generation and transmission lines.
"What I found was that there is enough infrastructure in Nigeria to build up a lot of the structures you need to use solar energy meaningfully," Adebiyi said.
He has used his own home in Starkville to try to put what he has learned into practice. Adebiyi built an inexpensive solar-powered hot water heater in his back yard constructed of materials that are easy to obtain.
"You can buy much better units, but this is the kind of thing I want to fool with because you can get the parts easily in Nigeria," Adebiyi said.
He shares everything he learns with others in his home country so his efforts can be duplicated there and helped install some of the solar-powered hot water heaters while in Nigeria.
He has tackled other projects as well, such as building inexpensive boxes for Nigerian farmers to dry their produce in to protect the crops from flies, rodents and birds to increase their yield.
Most recently, Adebiyi purchased a solar-powered air conditioner to see how well the unit works. Looking for someone to help him install the unit, Adebiyi reached out to EMCC industrial maintenance and Workforce instructor Mike Edwards, who teaches the HVAC program at the college. Edwards installed the unit for Adebiyi, who decided he would like to take the HVAC course to learn the process himself and share the information with others in his homeland.
Edwards described Adebiyi as an excellent student.
"There is no doubt he knows the theoretical end to no limits," Edwards said. "He is way over what my knowledge is on that end of it. But he doesn't have the hands-on experience and the skill to actually do the installation. He is learning how to take that theoretical model he has been teaching all these years and apply it in the real world."
As for Adebiyi, he is excited about the prospect of bringing that knowledge back to Nigeria.
"I am constantly in communication with people over there who are like-minded," Adebiyi said. "I have gotten groups interested in projects and I go back to see how they are doing. It is ongoing. Right now we are thinking maybe we should have a little forum to train people in certain skilled areas.
"Whenever I have the opportunity, I think about ways I can contribute to make life better for those in Nigeria."
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