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Westar solar panels enhance tech education
Associate Professor Erik Mayer (center) and students Bohong Zhang (left) and Zhongyan Shi study solar energy using solar panels given to the university by Westar Energy.

Westar solar panels enhance tech education

In the summer of 2014, Westar Energy chose Pittsburg State as one of 15 Kansas entities for its Solar Photovoltaic Project, an initiative aimed at promoting and analyzing uses for solar energy.

In the summer of 2014, Westar Energy chose Pittsburg State as one of 15 Kansas entities for its Solar Photovoltaic Project, an initiative aimed at promoting and analyzing uses for solar energy.

 

As part of the project, solar panels were installed at the university’s new Robert W. Plaster Center. Placed above the center’s front entrance, the panels are a visible sign of Pitt State and Westar’s renewable energy partnership.

 

Another component of the project, while not always visible to the public, is helping to enhance the education of Pitt State students at the Kansas Technology Center.

 

Westar gave a mobile solar panel unit to the College of Technology as part of the educational component of the Solar Photovoltaic Project. Erik Mayer, associate professor of electronics engineering technology, said the unit is used to help give students a first-hand look at how solar energy works.

 

“It’s very nice to have something like this from Westar, because we can wheel it right outside and study the various ways that solar energy can be harnessed and put to use,” Mayer said.

 

PSU estimates that as many as 2,000 students will benefit from the use of the solar array in research and demonstration projects related to their field of study. That includes students in technology as well as those in the PSU’s bachelor of integrated studies degree with an emphasis in sustainability, society and resource management program.

 

“I think we’ll be able to use these solar panels to enhance how we study electrical power and renewable energy,” Mayer said. “We’re very grateful to Westar for this opportunity.”

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