A student team from New Mexico State University was awarded a second-place finish in the United States Department of Energy’s Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition April 27.
The College of Engineering team, which was led by team captain and electrical engineering undergraduate Orland Whitney, included electrical engineering undergraduates Frank Miyagishima and Rosa Triviz, and dual credit high school student Riva Silver; electrical engineering graduate students Andres Acosta, James Pleasant II, Ada Ramoko and Randy Woodall; mechanical engineering undergraduates Shay Gregory and Kevin Lennox; and mechanical engineering technology undergraduate Adebiyi Stapp-Adeogba. The electrical engineering students are working on getting their degrees in power systems, renewable energy and smart grids, as part of the prestigious Electrical Utility Manager Program at NMSU.
“It was great to see that the hard work of students from two semesters, their creative ideas and their knowledge of topics in the areas of renewable energy and smart grid placed the NMSU team so high,” said Olga Lavrova, faculty adviser and Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering associate professor.
“NMSU Engineering places high value on student-led activities,” said Lakshmi Reddi, College of Engineering dean. “This is a great example for the student-centric focus of the college; I congratulate the student group and Dr. Lavrova, who brings her unique expertise and experience in the renewable energy and smart grid areas to advise our students.”
The competition challenges student teams to design and model optimized distributed solar energy systems for a campus or urban district. The contest began in September 2019 with 61 teams, and 35 teams were selected as finalists in December 2019. Competing in one of three districts, NMSU was tasked with finding solutions for Ball State University’s campus to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
The NMSU team’s solution was to integrate solar photovoltaic and battery electric storage systems, solar thermal and thermal storage systems, along with suggestions for electrification of the campus fleet, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and implementation of artistic solar benches in several locations throughout the campus. The team also proposed using rooftops, parking lots and ground areas across campus for photovoltaic systems.
In addition to NMSU students competing, the campus was also one of the district-use cases, and Pat Chavez, NMSU’s director of Utilities and Plant Operations for Facilities and Services, was a judge for the NMSU district-use case.