By Matt Fedorko
Program Coordinator, Penn State Northern Mid-Atlantic RTP
Earlier this fall, the Northern Mid-Atlantic RTP team hosted the Solar and Energy Storage Education Symposium, a unique event at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which brought representatives from nine different colleges and universities together to talk about solar and energy storage education. The purpose was to get solar and energy storage instructors, faculty members and program administrators together to have focused, intensive discussions on topics important to them.
The first half of the day, facilitated by Drs. David Riley and Vera Cole respectively, explored how to use grants and contests in solar education and moving what’s new in the solar industry into the classroom. Discussions were more far-ranging during the last half, with participants proposing and facilitating conversations about marketing solar programs to students, the solar career map and aligning education with industry needs, how solar fits into higher education and big data in solar.
“We felt it could be incredibly valuable to give instructors and administrators who are actively involved in teaching solar a chance to share their hard-earned classroom experiences with each other,” said Matt Fedorko, Program Coordinator for Penn State’s Northern Mid-Atlantic RTP.
The team also hosted two Delaware Technical Community College instructors, Dan Kasper and Cory Budischak, who brought eight first-year energy students to the Smart Grid Experience Center for a half-day of solar training. Kaspar and Budischak specifically requested a hands-on experience, designed to inspire and spark student interest in energy topics and build and maintain motivation to stay in the program.
“It can be weeks into a semester before a student gets an opportunity to do hands-on work with solar, but for a lot of students those hands-on activities are very engaging and enlightening,” said Matt Fedorko, who assisted Kasper and Budischak at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. ‘Here at PSU’s Smart Grid Experience Center, we’re equipped to grab student’s attention and get them excited about solar before they get into a solar class.”
In the afternoon, students installed an eight-module array and toured the Smart Grid Experience Center. “Delaware Tech has an interest in working with energy modeling and monitoring in their program,” said Fedorko. “The tour provided a lot of valuable information for them.”
Contact Matt Fedorko for more information about the Northern Mid-Atlantic RTP.
Images: Pennsylvania State University