Plugging Away: UF’s First Custom-Designed Solar Charging Table Now on Campus
Need a recharge? A prototype of University of Findlay’s first solar-powered charging station has been placed in front of the Center for Student Life and College of Business. With financial support from the Parent Fund, UF collaborated with Millstream Career Center and First Solar to design and create the station.
First Solar donated the panels and some electrical equipment, designed the prototype this past summer, and is training Millstream students to build up to three more tables. These time and cost-saving efforts are saving thousands; solar tables can cost as much as $15,000 each.
Other college campuses are embracing such technology, and First Solar knew it could help UF do just that.
“As we dug deeper into the process, we looked at ways not only to help create a sustainable project using our older Series 5 modules that were destined for scrap, but to also find ways to involve and engage the local community,” explained Jay Lake, First Solar’s Workforce Development and Community Relations manager. The company took note of UF and Millstream’s existing partnership, and helped develop “an educational opportunity about green energy” for Millstream students, UF, and the rest of the community.
“Through a concerted effort with First Solar’s talented STEM associates, the University of Findlay, and Millstream Career Center, we hoped to find a way to create something that everyone could be proud of,” said Lake.
First Solar is encouraging Millstream students to make their own table design enhancements.
“We are excited that our junior and senior high school construction students are part of the project,” said Pam Hamlin, Millstream’s director. “We cannot think of a better way to learn except through projects like these. And, with UF located nearly in our front yard, the feasibility of the project makes sense.”
University representatives are also enthusiastic about the solar tables project. When the idea was introduced to University Advancement staff and Parent Fund organizers, “everybody loved it because it’s such a great collaboration,” said Karen George, senior director of Advancement. “We’re excited to see both on- and off-campus entities working together to provide this handy, valuable service. Digital connectivity is a necessity for our students and for most others on campus, and these tables will cater directly to that need.”