On February 28, a team of Lee College of Engineering students won second place in undergraduate category of the University of North Carolina Social Entrepreneurship Conference for its Solar Traffic Light project.
Now in its second year, the UNC Social Entrepreneurship Conference engages students, faculty and entrepreneurs from across the state to identify North Carolina’s social problems, and take a business-oriented approach to solving them. The UNC General Administration, the central office of the UNC system, hosted the 2014 conference at NC A&T State University in Greensboro, with 40 teams participating from across the system.
The Lee College of Engineer team was made up of students Alex Esposito, Ben Godsell, Thomas McGukin, Kashif Subhan and Nathan Smith, and project mentors Dr. Nan BouSaba and Dr. Aba Ebong.
The Solar Traffic Light project addressed the problem of cities being left without power for weeks in the aftermath of natural disasters, and of under-developed countries lacking reliable power grids to support traffic order. The team’s solution was to design and develop portable, solar-powered traffic lights that can be easily integrated into any environment. The solution is economical, and can be easily implemented and customized for performance.
The idea of the project was first generated by Dr. Ebong in the fall 2011 for a senior design project. A first prototype of the solar traffic light was built by the 2011-2012 team. In the spring 2013, the business aspects of the project were developed by a team in the course Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship ECGR4090/5090. Two students from this course continued the project as their senior design project, building a second prototype in the fall of 2013.