May 05, 2014, BY Terri Peterson

Solar Senior Class Tribute

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The Class of 2014 presented Bucknell University with a tribute of a photovoltaic (solar) array integrated into Bucknell's electrical power supply. Seniors in Professor Peter Mark Jansson's Renewable Energy Systems class designed the array under the mentorship of Jansson and Phil Diefenderfer '13 M'15. Funding from Bucknell Student Government supported the project.

"The seniors in BSG wanted to start a trend in gift giving, focusing on sustainability and giving back to Bucknell," says design engineer Karen Hecht '14. The seniors quickly came on board and determined their own roles. Hecht says, "We've been working together for four years, so it didn't take long to decide who was right for which job."

Project Manager Steve DeMelis '14 said, "The senior tribute project aligns with Bucknell's green initiative and has been a collaborative effort with Facilities and Dean Conrad's office, but it's fully student run. We worked within our own budget, drew designs, secured permits, met with suppliers. Bucknell presented two potential sites; we calculated which would generate the greatest solar generation and configured arrays appropriate for the winning site by the water tower."

The final configuration is a 9 kilowatt array comprises 36 solar panels, generating 11 megawatt hours of energy per year. In lay terms, it will generate over 1 million iPhone charges annually.

Jansson says, "This has been a dream project because the students were so enthusiastic to do it, and taking a project from idea to completion in four months is pretty impressive." DeMelis, a future business industry analyst, says he's earned a wealth of real-world experience from this project. Hecht claims an emotional reward, saying, "This is something that will last. I like the idea of coming back in 20 years with my kids, pointing to the solar array and saying, "I did that."