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Honors Thesis Work In Renewable Energy For An Undergraduate Student

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Design Experiences in Energy Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.640.1 - 8.640.9



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Paper Authors

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Tim Meyers

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2433

Honors Thesis Work in Renewable Energy for an Undergraduate Student Robert S. Weissbach, Timothy S. Meyers Penn State Erie, The Behrend College


Renewable energy has become an important area of research and development for both environmental as well as economic reasons. At the academic level, it is possible to introduce students to issues related to renewable energy. This paper discusses the effort one student has put in, as part of a thesis, to develop an economically feasible, self-sufficient, renewable energy system for a residential home in the Great Lakes region. The design of the system sought to use both wind and solar energy to supply energy to the home. The student was able to consider effects such as the design and capability of the wind turbine and solar panels to determine whether the design would be viable economically. After deciding that the initial system design would be too expensive, the student then considered other options to reduce the cost of the renewable energy system while still providing the necessary electrical systems that are used in a modern home. This included the development of a survey that was distributed to faculty and staff. The survey was used to determine the critical electrical loads that families in the Great Lakes region would require throughout the year. Successes and challenges of using thesis work as a teaching methodology for education in renewable energy will be discussed.


Penn State Erie, The Behrend College offers an honors program (called the Schreyer Honors program) to those students who possess high academic ability and the desire to pursue research- oriented work within their curriculum. Students are required to take 14 semester credits of honors classes as well as write a thesis. Honors classes are either offered within the schedule, or students perform additional relevant work within a non-honors class to satisfy the honors credit requirement.

One student in electrical engineering technology (EET) was accepted into the honors program at the beginning of his junior year, based on his application and a clear record of academic achievement. As part of the thesis, the student and faculty advisor decided to look at the area of renewable energy. Specifically, the student thesis would focus on developing a renewable energy system for a home in the Great Lakes region that could be disconnected from the utility grid. Factors to be considered in the design included:

• Cost of the system • Power and energy required throughout the year • Use of different energy resources, namely wind and solar • Consideration of energy storage, such as batteries

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Meyers, T., & Weissbach, R. (2003, June), Honors Thesis Work In Renewable Energy For An Undergraduate Student Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12048

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