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University of Texas at Brownsville, College of Science, Mathematics and Technology

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CSMT Announcements: UTB students install solar panels at Veterans Memorial High School

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UTB students install solar panels at Veterans Memorial High School

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Students in adjunct faculty member Alex Peña’s solar energy class have installed more than 250 solar panels on the roof of the Veterans Memorial High School, located at 4550 U.S. Military Hwy. 281.  About 20 students in UT-Brownsville’s engineering technology program participated in placing the panels on the roof of the school Oct. 3. Solar panels work by taking solar radiation and converting it into electrons that flow from one cell in the panel to others, creating an electric current. Peña said the objective of the class is to “teach students how solar cells work both practically and theoretically.”  Students had the opportunity to learn firsthand what it is like to install solar panels.  The Brownsville Independent School District received a $240,000 Innovative Energy Demonstration grant from the State Energy Conservation Office.  “Veterans Memorial was a candidate because of its qualifications and we were honored by the federal government as an Energy Star building that was awarded about a year ago,” said Santiago Otero, the BISD’s energy manager. Another factor that qualified the school was that it has a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, where students learn about renewal energy and sustainable buildings. Peña said the high school will spend about 30 percent less on its monthly electricity bill. It would take an additional 1,500 panels for the school to rely solely on solar energy. “If we could install more solar panels it could take care of 100 percent of their bills, but it’s not happening right now,” Peña said. “It’s just an educational grant, 250 panels--that’s it.” Asked if there would be more panels the school is always looking for grants. “We apply for them when we know they are out there,” he said. “We try to grab as much money as we can to upgrade … our schools.” Peña’s class will work next on a solar energy project with the City of Brownsville, where they will place solar panels on a carport.

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4/30/2014

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Created at 12/4/2013 10:51 AM by Nicholas Guajardo
Last modified at 12/4/2013 10:51 AM by Nicholas Guajardo