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Using State Or Federal Department Of Energy Demonstration Grant Funds As Hands On Educational Opportunities For Engineering Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Outreach Projects and General Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1563.1 - 12.1563.13



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Paper Authors

author page

Robert Fletcher Lawrence Technological University

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

Using State or Federal Department of Energy Demonstration Grant Funds as Hands-on Educational Opportunities for Engineering Students


All motivated engineering faculty regularly look for new and innovative opportunities to provide unique and meaningful learning experiences for their students. State and Federal demonstration grants to non-profit organizations provide such learning experiences. For example, our school, Lawrence Technological University, received a $60,000 grant from the State of Michigan in the summer of 2004 for an on-campus installation of a 10-kW photovoltaic demonstration project. We pursed this grant with the intent that the project be used to supplement Lawrence Technological University’s growing academic engineering curriculum in the field of Alternative Energy. We have found that such demonstration grants provide invaluable real-world educational enrichment opportunities for engineering students if the projects are managed appropriately, implemented within the skill sets of the students involved, and address the time constraints of the academic calendar year. The obvious benefits to students include key engineering activities such as the proper definition of a project and its scope, systems design, hardware and equipment procurement, installation, safety checks and trouble shooting, system validation and commissioning. Several other broader educational benefits to students include cross-departmental collaboration, team work, resources planning and scheduling, budget management and vendor relations from such projects. We installed our 10-kW PV project using volunteer student help outside the bounds of classroom activities. Here we present a summary of the project itself, along with a one-year post-installation assessment of the Lawrence Technological University’s project. Also reviewed are its benefits to Lawrence Technological University’s students and our Alternative Energy program, along with several recommendations for how other educators might also successfully proceed with similar efforts.

Introduction and Background

For the past several years Lawrence Technological University (also known as LTU) has been actively involved in the field of alternative energy in both design competitions and in the formal education of its students through its curricula and student projects in both the College of Engineering and well as the College of Architecture. In 2003 LTU received a significant grant from NextEnergy, a nonprofit organization in the State of Michigan, to augment its Alternative Energy curriculum. The NextEnergy grant helped LTU develop additional courses, but funds from the grant could not be used to purchase laboratory equipment or experimental hardware. This was an unfortunate limitation, so the faculty involved in our Alternative Energy program felt it was critical to secure additional funding specifically for procuring laboratory equipment and related hardware to augment and complement the education of or students in this important area.

During this time the Energy Office of Michigan’s Department of Labor & Economic Growth initiated a Request for Proposals at the start of 2004 from public and non-profit organizations to install and demonstrate a new 10 kW or larger solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The grant

Fletcher, R. (2007, June), Using State Or Federal Department Of Energy Demonstration Grant Funds As Hands On Educational Opportunities For Engineering Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1835

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