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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Solar charging coming to UF campus thanks to engineering society

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers wants to make students’ days a little sunnier.

The society is planning to install three solar charging stations on campus in late April, said Pablo Corredor, the group’s vice president of technology affairs.

“We want to make it aesthetically pleasing,” Corredor said. “We want to put it right in your face.”

The solar charging stations will have USB ports and water-resistant outlets, and they will be placed near benches around campus.

The charging stations will have a 100-watt panel capable of charging one and a half laptops at all times. The panels will also come equipped with battery systems that will store power and keep the panels functional even in inclement weather, he said.

The design of the charging stations also calls for an LCD screen that will show the charge of the battery, how much energy the station has accumulated during the day and how much energy the station has accumulated during its lifetime.

The panels last between 20 and 25 years, and the batteries last up to three years. The three systems will cost $1,500 each and will be funded through UF’s College of Engineering.

Corredor said only the society will be involved in maintaining the charging stations, and it predicts that the stations won’t need much maintenance except for occasional cosmetic issues.

The first three stations, which will hopefully be installed in late April, will be pilots for the program so the group can see how much the stations are being used.

Corredor said this is the largest project the organization has been involved in.

“Every year we want to carry out a couple of projects that are completely different from whatever it is we did last time,” Corredor said.

Katherine Nemecek, a 19-year-old UF sport management sophomore, said she would use the charging stations. She said being environmentally friendly is important to her.

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“I make sure to recycle and unplug my chargers when I’m not using them,” Nemecek said.

In the group’s preliminary surveys, it found 70 percent of students bring their chargers to campus, a statistic Corredor said he finds encouraging because it shows students will use the solar chargers. He said his dream is to install these chargers at universities throughout Florida.

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 3/27/2014 under the headline "Solar charging coming to UF campus"]

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