Student team brings solar power to Ohio Union bus stop

Posted: July 22, 2020

Students from the College of Engineering who received a $20,000 grant as finalists in the Smart Campus Challenge have now completed their project and installed solar panels at the Ohio Union campus bus stop.

In Spring 2019, teams of students from every Ohio State campus submitted projects that support Ohio State’s sustainability goals by entering the Smart Campus Challenge, a venture capitalist-style competition where student teams pitched their ideas to a range of CEOs and Ohio State directors, students and professors for the chance to have their dream project funded. The competition was hosted by Ohio State Energy Partners, a joint venture of ENGIE and Axium Infrastructure, selected in 2017 by Ohio State to operate, maintain and optimize the university’s utility system at the more than 400-building campus in Columbus, Ohio, under a 50-year contract.

solar panel installation on bus stop roof
Solar panel installation at Ohio Union/South Oval bus stop
The solar panels on the bus stop power phone charging outlets and a digital information display. USB outlets are available for use beneath the benches. On the display screen, passengers will see a real-time bus map similar to what’s found on the Ohio State app. The display also includes Campus Area Bus Services (CABS) service information, sustainability tips and opportunities to get involved in campus sustainability efforts. 

“Ohio State prides itself on providing experiential education opportunities for our engineering students, and this is an excellent example of students applying their education to harness technology in service to the campus community,” said David Tomasko, associate dean of the College of Engineering. 

The student team was formed by chemical engineering alum Cal Craven ‘19, who was president of the Engineers for a Sustainable World student organization. Upon graduating, he passed leadership reins on to mechanical engineering majors Matt Bisbee and Drew Kosir. Other engineering students on the team included Madison Cupp, Jonah Eisaman, Drew Havrilla, Molly Loughridge, Ben Moskos, Nader Shaheen and Nick Szambelan. Engineering Education Senior Lecturers Edgar Casale and Kathleen Harper served as faculty advisors.

Transportation and Traffic Management (TTM) played a key role in coordinating logistics for the project. Sean Roberts, transportation systems coordinator, oversees the real-time bus tracking system. He’s been meeting with the students and ENGIE since early 2019.

“I thought the concept was really cool,” Roberts said. “I like the idea of utilizing solar power for the project.”

Caitlin Holley, ENGIE’s program manager for capital projects, served as a project mentor and helped guide the team through project completion. 

“The team wanted to complete the solar panel install project before graduation.” Holley said. “This included finishing their design, looking at the budget, developing a list of materials and reaching out to solar contractors.”

Kate Bartter, executive director of the Sustainability Institute, helped choose the winner. Bartter said she was very impressed by the understanding the Student Solar Bus Stop team had regarding the importance of teaching their peers about the value of renewable energy by engaging them in an out-of-the-box way. 

“Judging the event was truly a high point of my career at Ohio State,” Bartter said. “The passion, commitment and creativity of the student teams further reinforced my belief that our students are at the forefront of understanding and solving our global sustainability challenges.”

adapted from article on Transportation and Traffic Management web site

Category: Students