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Renewable Energy For Learning Barge

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Sustainability and Environmental Issues

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1035.1 - 13.1035.13



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Paper Authors

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P. Paxton Marshall University of Virginia

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Farhad Omar University of Virginia

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Alexander Hydrogen Martin University of Virginia

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James Durand University of Virginia

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

Renewable Energy for Learning BargeTM American Society for Engineering Education 2008 Annual Conference


Learning BargeTM is joint project of the schools of architecture and engineering at the University of Virginia to design and build an energy self-sufficient floating classroom that offers an interactive, hands-on learning experience focused on ecological restoration, preservation, and the environmental impact of human activities. The barge will be sited on the Elizabeth River in tidewater Virginia. The Learning BargeTM will serve the residents of the Elizabeth River watershed and Hampton Roads’ population of 1.6 million through a unique curriculum developed by science coordinators and teachers from Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach School Districts, doctoral students from UVA’s Curry School of Education, and the Elizabeth River Project staff.

An estimated 19,000 learners, including K-12 students and teachers, diverse community groups, families, children, adults, and people from all backgrounds are anticipated to visit the Learning Barge annually and participate in activities centered around wetlands, water, sustainable practices, art & literature, and history & geography. They will also gain knowledge about energy sustainability through alternative sources of energy provided by photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines, and solar thermal space heating for the classroom produced by an evacuated tube heating system. A monitoring system with a large display will provide feedback on energy generation and consumption onboard the Learning BargeTM to collect accurate data on the performance of the solar and wind systems, and to teach visitors about conservation and renewable energy.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration The project is conducted through classes taught by Phoebe Crisman of the School of Architecture and Paxton Marshall of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. Design is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2007 with construction and launch scheduled for the spring and summer of 2008. The engineering team has consisted of two electrical engineers, two civil engineers and one engineering science major. Jim Durand, adjunct professor of mechanical engineering has advised the thermal team. Thus far about 20 architecture students have been involved with the architectural design. The engineering and architecture teams meet weekly to collaborate on their designs.

The project has provided students with significant learning experiences due to the collaborative interactions with students of different disciplines, and the real world constraints of a design that will actually be built and must meet a budget.

Marshall, P. P., & Omar, F., & Martin, A. H., & Durand, J. (2008, June), Renewable Energy For Learning Barge Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3468

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