The Green Engineer: Radu Postole


Interviewed and written by Trina Moran


When we give back to a community, it is felt locally. When we give back to the planet, it is felt on a global scale. For Radu Postole, serving the community and the Earth go hand in hand and has become a career. A recent graduate from UBC’s Integrated Engineering program, Radu is a systems engineer for SunCentral and a volunteer engineer for the Tetra Society of North America (a non-profit organization that creates assistive devices for people with disabilities).

At SunCentral, Radu is a project manager and operations engineer. As well, he oversees various design concepts. Currently, he is working on solar tracking technology that uses sunlight to light office space. This concept utilizes mirrors on the outside of office buildings that track the sun, lenses that concentrate the sunlight, and a light guide to pipe the concentrated light into the depths of the building. Electric lighting is also used in this method, but is instantly dimmed when the sun shines, making this a hybrid energy source. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The process is instantaneous. Therefore, the sunlight outside is instantly converted into the lighting used inside. Human benefits to this hybrid lighting system include a better workplace environment and a connection to the outdoor environment. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Vancouver = Rain city. Also, with hydroelectricity available in this region the cost for electricity is low. This specific type of hybrid energy source is marketable to regions that experience longer, frequent periods of sunlight throughout the year (California, Spain, Portugal) where hydroelectricity or other affordable energy is not always an available option. Overall, Radu’s goal at SunCentral is to further develop this concept so that it becomes a readily available option for new office buildings being designed in the near future.


Radu also volunteers for the Tetra Society of North America. The Tetra Society focuses on creating custom devices for people with disabilities that transforms an aspect of their life. Tetra was founded in 1987 in Vancouver by Sam Sullivan and is one of the six affiliated societies that make up the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation. Here, engineers and technically minded people volunteer to design and build custom devices catered to each individual’s needs and desires. Our own editor-in-chief, Keiko Honda, requested to have a tray built for her wheelchair to accommodate her laptop. Tetra then paired her with Radu, who designed and developed the tray for her, which she frequently uses. Tetra also invites people with disabilities to come into their shop and work on their own projects, and there are weekly classes to provide assistance and supervision. Radu has been involved with the Tetra Society since his undergraduate years at UBC and has continued to volunteer there as he feels that it is rewarding and finds it to be an outlet for creativity that also helps others.

When asked why community involvement and volunteering was important to him, Radu responded that people today are ‘required to do more than [their] standard work’ as we are part of a bigger community than we realize. Not everyone is given the same oppurtunities and therefore we need to focus on giving back to our community and give aide to those who are in need of it. Radu also hopes that SunCentral prospers in the ‘green movement’ that is currently taking place around the world and that it will further develop into a commercially successful company. Overall, Radu impacts his world on the local and global scale. He defines community as a group of people who co-exist together with a common goal in mind. Which causes me to think: What are the common goals of my community? What is my place in my community? If everyone were to be make one contribution towards the goal of their community, it is endless what a community can accomplish. For Radu, it’s being a part of the ‘green movement’ and providing a service to his community. He is an inspiration on moving communities forward and promoting balance in everyday life.