The Milwaukee School of Engineering offers their seniors industry specific design projects to solve with a group of classmates. The students are divided into groups based on the project they choose to work on, and they have one year to complete each project. Mark Daugherty, the lead professor for this design class and program, proposes a variety of projects for his students such as building mining robots for NASA, redesigning top-performing coolers to stay in competition with other top performers and engineering stairways for mining equipment. Among those projects, the most popular with the students was the solar powered bike. Students in the program are encouraged to reach out to other businesses within the community to source material, services and additional help where needed to complete the project.
SunVest Solar donated the solar panels, Dream Bikes donated a large portion of the bike parts, and Stratus Industries donated welding services to complete the build. The bike features 1 solar panel, 4 bike tires, a customized bike chassis, a 650-watt motor and 4 batteries. Having 4 batteries allows two to be used to power the bike, while the other two generate and store power from the solar panel. Once the two batteries are used up of their available energy, the machine switches to the other two batteries to run power from while the original two batteries recharge.
The school also offers product development classes and renewable energy courses. Renewable energy is a popular topic and a rapidly growing industry. One of the projects for these classes was to design, engineer and build a solar powered light system that could run in third world countries so students could read during dark hours easier. A project that Professor Daugherty is planning for his next group of seniors will tackle the topic of climate change. Over a hundred projects created by MSOE students can be viewed in May when the students put their projects on display and present.
This project was made possible because of the donations made by supporting local businesses. SunVest Solar is a nationwide solar developer headquartered in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. SunVest strives to aid businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, non-profits to reduce utility costs, tribes to become self-sustainable and communities to unite and share solar opportunities. Dream Bikes is a program that takes in old broken bikes and hires teens within the community to rebuild and give them back to the community. To date, they have returned over 10,000 working bikes to their communities. Stratus Industries is made up of a team of talented entrepreneurs that specialize in product development and problem solving. They specialize in contract manufacturing, kitting, fulfillment and product creation.
The students who made this project come to life have successfully graduated from the program and have moved into their own careers. SunVest Solar and Professor Daugherty are currently brainstorming future projects that students could work with solar energy, while being partnered with community opportunities that would stand and be recognized for years to come.
Notes to Editor:
SunVest Solar is part of Neumann’s Family of Companies, with offices in the Midwest and Northeast. As a solar developer, SunVest specializes in large solar projects from start-to-finish including land acquisition, design, development, general contracting, construction, operations and maintenance. SunVest also aids in financial opportunities, grant writing, federal tax credits for installations and state incentives.
2020 marks the first year since 2016 that the Federal Tax Investment Credit has been reduced from 30% to 26%, with plans to reduce it again in 2021. Our goal is to convert as many businesses as possible to clean energy this year to guarantee their best return on investment.
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