High school students in Carlisle, PA are utilizing solar technology in an effort to keep up-to-date with emerging technologies and learn about alternative resources.
Students in the carpentry program of the Center for Careers and Technology at Carlisle High School have created a solar-powered trailer to use for all of their construction projects.
The project was the brainchild of Sean Allewelt, who teaches carpentry and construction trades at the school. He came up with the idea two years ago, as a way to teach students about green technology and give them hands-on experience building a mobile power source.
But from there, it was the students who really took charge of the project. They did extensive research and applied what they learned to preparing construction designs and a list of key components.
Allewelt chose a group of three students, Matt Stum, Chad Goodhart, and Bryce Kruse, who planned the mobile array their sophomore year, built it their junior year, and now, as seniors, use it every day.
It wasn’t an overnight project, by any means. The array came at no cost to the district, thanks to donated panels and a $5,830 grant from PPG Industries in Carlisle, but it took a while for the panels to be made.
The array wasn’t up and running until last spring, which gave the students little opportunity to make use of their new project before the end of the year. But when school began in August, the boys began wheeling their solar trailer out of the carpentry shop to use every day.
“It worked out well for them to see the entire progression,” Allewelt said of the students.
“We pretty much designed it all ourselves,” Goodhart said, explaining that Allewelt only helped when the students got stuck. “He wanted us to make it ours.”
Goodhart believes that mobile arrays such as theirs would help small construction companies better work in remote areas, and keep their costs down.
“We applaud creative thinking like this. one of the key ingredients in developing our PowerParasol projects is thinking out of the box and devising new valued propositions for the use of solar that is beyond just the traditional rooftop application,” says Jay Thorne, Spokesman, Strategic Solar Energy. “We think there are a lot of different ways for solar energy to be useful and it’s not surprising that students creatively come up with ideas like this.”
Allewelt and his students expect to use the mobile array to power their projects for the entire school year. Every year, the students train outside using power tools to build 10 to 15 sheds, gazebos, and garages, mostly for nonprofit organizations.
The students appreciate the fact that they are learning about these emerging green technologies, so that they can apply that knowledge to their future careers.
“It is good in construction to keep up with the pace,” said Stum. “We can become the people that push that forward.”