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Service Learning Experiences

Solar Spring Break 2018

Supervisor: Stacy Peterson

Dates: March 2018

Hours: 8 hours/day · 5 days = 40 hours

Once again, I returned for Solar Spring Break! We traveled to Los Angeles this year and installed a residential solar system in the historically disadvantaged community Watts. We learned a lot about the solar industry and installation processes, this trip was unique in that we learned more about social justice issues. We discussed the location of low-income housing and how environmental problems can impact health. We also visited Homeboy Industries, a initiative to develop the re-entry population of the previously incarcerated while also keeping people out of gangs. Learning first hands the social impacts of renewable energy was incredibly rewarding and put all of my engineering work in perspective.

 

Solar Spring Break 2017

Supervisor: Stacy Peterson

Dates: March 2017

Hours: 8 hours/day · 5 days = 40 hours

I returned to the Solar Spring Break Program because I had such a great time last year. This year, we went to Fresno, CA and installed a solar system on one house. This trip was more educational about solar energy and the company. We learned more about GRID’s structure, their funding process, their methodology of selecting houses, and the outreach they conduct. Because the group was in Fresno specifically, we visited Fresno State and learned about the nexus of water, energy, technology, and agriculture in the area.

 

For more information about our trip, see the following media articles: Duke Energy Initiative, abc30YourCentralValley.

 

Solar Spring Break 2016

Supervisor: Stacy Peterson

Dates: March 2016

Hours: 8 hours/day · 5 days = 40 hours

Through the Undergraduate Energy Club, I had the opportunity to participate in GRID Alternative’s Solar Spring Break for universities across the nation. 8 Duke students travelled to the Chemehuevi Native American tribe on the border of California and Arizona. We installed solar panels on two houses. It was great to learn about the mechanical and electrical aspects that go into solar panel installations. I was surprised to see how streamlined and simple everything was, and how well they taught volunteers to install panels. We also learned a lot about the culture and history of the tribe. This experienced challenged a lot of preconceptions we had about Native Americans, especially seeing how modern their lives are. It was sad and interesting to see how their cultural sites have been endangered by the government, yet how they continue to persevere.

This experience directly relates to my GCS focus. GRID Alternatives has found a sustainable business model, even as a nonprofit, that allows them to install solar panels for free on houses for impoverished families. Thus, they not only ensure the clean energy future of the nation, but also help families escape poverty by lowering their cost of electricity. This is ultimately also the goal of making solar energy economical, to increase adoption to prevent global warming and decrease the price of electricity.