A new student-built table in Kogan Plaza will allow students to charge their phones and laptops using solar power beginning this fall.
A 12-student team, called Marisol, won a contest challenging student teams and organizations to design a solar charging station to be installed in Kogan Plaza. The contest was the first of its kind at GW and was hosted by the Office of Sustainability.
Meghan Chapple, the director of the sustainability office, said in an email that she wanted the contest to inspire students to be creative when improving sustainability on campus.
“‘Charged Up’ showcases GW students’ creativity and ingenuity,” she said. “Their designs are another important step toward not only reducing the University’s carbon footprint but also inspiring other students to join us as we strengthen GW’s position as a leader in urban sustainability.”
The University began using solar energy to power half of its electricity consumption in 2015 and plans to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025.
A panel of five judges, including University and industry officials, selected the winning design.
The winning team, announced at an Earth Day fair last month, will receive $10,000 to complete their design. The Division of Operations will fund the project and Duke Energy Renewables, a renewable energy company that has funded University projects in the past, will donate the solar panels, Chapple said.
A panel of five judges, including University and industry officials, selected the winning design. Each proposal was evaluated on how realistic it would be to build and how well it would integrate into campus culture.
Marisol was made up of 12 students divided into sub-groups that each focused on different aspects of the project, including design, electrical, structure and finance. The team worked on 10 initial proposals before settling on their final design.
The students on the team came together through mutual friends and are of various majors relating to science and engineering. Team members took two months to craft their design.
Danny Oler, the team’s electrical leader, said the group will finalize their design this summer with construction management and University project managers. The construction process will end in October, and the table will become available for students to use, he said.
“It’s really cool to actually be able to use what you’re learning in school,” Oler said.
Ali Ahmed, a junior and the team’s design leader, said creating the design proposal allowed students of multiple majors and interests to collaborate.
“It felt amazing to win,” Ahmed said. “We didn’t try and anticipate anything. We were hopeful that they would see how hard we worked, and the judges really did.”
Ahmed said the team’s design consists of three standing tables – called a slab – with two surrounding benches. The station will allow three to four students to charge their laptops or phones at one time, he said.
The table will feature Arabic calligraphy hand painted by Areej Itayem, a fine arts major.
A pair of square steel pipes, called “fitna,” will support the solar panels, Ahmed said. In Arabic, fitna refers to an old process in which gold was purified, stripping away impure parts of the metal, he said.
“We see the sun as this piece of fire that brings energy to its purest state as solar, and it redefines the word solar.”
“We see the sun as this piece of fire that brings energy to its purest state as solar, and it redefines the word solar,” Ahmed said.
Engineers Without Borders, the runner-up, had 16 students on their team and will also build their design once a location for another solar table is determined.
Caven Montel, a sophomore and fundraising chair for the group, said sustainability department officials contacted the group last fall to discuss adding another solar table on campus.
Montel compared the team’s design to a picnic table, where a central rod supports the solar panels at a tilt serving as an awning. Weather-proof benches will store the electronics, he said.
He said the location of the team’s table is yet to be determined.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to implement our design because a lot of work from a lot of people went into this and so it would be great to see this get built and to see GW become more sustainable.” Montel said. “I’m glad that they’re reaching out and getting the rest of the community involved.”
This article appeared in the May 1, 2017 issue of the Hatchet.