As the Spring 2013 teams finished their senior design projects and departed with their engineering degrees, proof that this highly-anticipated competition gets real-world results is now at hand for an exceptional group from 2010.
That team produced the initial feasibility study for a 500 KW solar power project that would rest atop the shade canopies of a bus maintenance facility operated by the Charlotte Area Regional Transit Authority (CATS). So thorough was their work that CATS used the study to successfully compete for a federal grant to build the project. CATS won over $1.0 million, enough to get 50 percent of the project done. Today the massive installation of over 1,000 solar panels is complete, allowing the canopies to provide not only the essential shade needed to protect the systems' fleet investment, but five percent of the facility's electricity demand as well.
In making the technical case for the solar array, CATS demonstrated how it could cut emissions of greenhouse gases related to fleet maintenance. CATS tracks its solar energy output, and related fossil-fuel offsets, with a real-time instrumentation system that has been collecting and communicating data on the project's energy production since it launched in late 2012. CATS is so satisfied with the effort that it is pursuing more funds to ramp up the canopy system to its full 500 KW capacity.
Students on the 2010 team included Edgardo Mejia, Crystal Hardie, Gerard Eble and Mohammad Al Jama. Their faculty mentor was Dr. Mohamed-Ali Hasan, associate professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.