Asee peer logo

Seeking the Sun - a Student Design Competition Endeavor

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Design Based Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1059.1 - 23.1059.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Bill M. Diong Southern Polytechnic State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Bill Diong received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He gained valuable practical experience as a Senior Research Engineer with Sundstrand Aerospace (now UTC Aerospace) before returning to academia. He is currently an Associate Professor at Southern Polytechnic State University, in Marietta, GA. His research and teaching interests include power electronic systems, advanced power and energy systems, and dynamic systems and control.

visit author page

author page

Scott J. Tippens Southern Polytechnic State University

Download Paper |


Seeking the Sun - a Student Design Competition EndeavorAbstract A student team was assembled recently to participate in a Federal agency sponsorednational design competition. This team named itself the Sun-Seekers. The team’s objective is to design a fixed-tilt photovoltaic module, enclosing individualrows of solar cells that can separately track the sun. This will allow the module itself to be mountedsimply at a fixed tilt but still reap the substantial energy collecting benefits presently associatedwith active and passive solar tracking panels, while avoiding their significant additionalcomplexity, cost and weight. The goal is to improve upon the amount of energy collected by asimilarly-sized fixed-tilt solar panel by at least 25%. The team’s tasks include the following: Determining the type and design of passive actuators (not motors) that would be most appropriate for rotating lightweight groups of cells in an inexpensive yet reliable and robust photovoltaic module. This will initially focus on methodologies based on the deformation of bimetallic coils. Researching the selection of materials and geometry needed for a bimetallic coil to produce desired displacement and torque responses to direct solar radiation. Investigating approaches for rotating the columns of cells as independently as possible from changes in ambient temperature. Working on the design and placement of shadow plates or gratings relative to the bimetallic coils that will act to ascertain the direction of sunlight and determine the proper amount of rotation required from the actuator. The full paper will expand on the above, including giving specific examples of analysis anddesign aspects of this novel photovoltaic module that required the student team to apply what theyhad learnt from their completed coursework, as well as newly acquired specialized knowledge.

Diong, B. M., & Tippens, S. J. (2013, June), Seeking the Sun - a Student Design Competition Endeavor Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22444

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015