A student organization at UCF has recently revamped to provide those passionate about energy with opportunities to bring theory to practice. Originally known as IDEAS for Solar (a branch off of IDEAS for UCF) or Solar Knights, the RSO found that innovative energy goes beyond just solar.
Energy Knights, the new RSO title, brings students from all disciplines together to do essentially what their mission states: to gain hands on technical experience, exposure to industry leaders, and
opportunities to access internships, co-ops, and jobs in the power and energy industry. Matthew Aberman, Energy Knights President and Electrical Engineering major, discusses the student organization name change: “Originally we were inspired by the capabilities of solar energy and the potential it demonstrated in powering student projects and even our buildings on campus. As time progressed and we began learning more about power and energy, we realized that solar, although a promising source of electricity, is only one piece of the entire industry. It is then that we decided to change the name of our organization in order to better serve UCF students by exposing them to projects and opportunities not only related to solar energy but rather all areas within the power and energy industry.”
Its main focus is essentially to provide what a course lecture cannot: hands-on involvement. This includes collaborating on projects that mirror Senior Design format, helping members find jobs & internships with global power and energy related companies, research labs, and university, providing information on how to get involved in power and energy within one’s area of interest or major, offering advice from graduate students and researchers, and hosting industry tours. Shayna Brock, Energy Knights Vice President and Electrical Engineering major, explains her content with the club’s focus: “I think this club stands out to me because it is focused on a cause I firmly believe in. We strive to learn about energy efficient systems and implement that knowledge into projects, like our solar powered sign and golf carts. Not only do we build projects, but our meetings are sometimes focused around speakers, networking, and what’s to come after graduation in dealing with actual companies. Knowledge is critical to the furthering of our society, and it begins with networking with the right people that will land students a career.”
Energy Knights already has the ball rolling this semester with a full itinerary of meetings, guest speakers, and similar. Additionally, numerous projects are in the works. One is to create a club sign to be used to advertise for the club and its events in the engineering atrium. It will be made of either glass or acrylic and illuminated by LEDs that are powered by a rechargeable batter from solar panels. Another is restoring a solar powered golf cart that was originally created by a previous Senior Design team. This calls for a few repairs that can provide members a “clean” way to get around campus.
Aberman further explains, “If any students have energy projects that they’d like to work on, we will help to provide them a structure in which to design and build their project. If students are interested in conducting research, we can help to introduce them to labs and similar. If a research project is attained, those students can present their findings at the North American Power Symposium (NAPS) 2016 Conference, an event sponsored by the Department of Energy (DoE) and several industry partners. These project and research opportunities are aimed to provide our members with valuable experience to take with them to their next interview or add to their portfolio.”
This past semester (Fall 2015) demonstrated nothing less. The club established their constitutional amendments, logo, officer positions, and initiative goals. Their Facebook, a main resource for club communication, was flooded with job/internship offers such as with NextEra Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority, and IEEE Power & Energy Society. Also, a private tour of the UCF Combined Heat & Power Plant, specifically the MW 18-Cylinder Reciprocating Engine residing on campus, was offered to interested members (pictured above). The club plans to partner with The Department of Utilities and Energy Services to have the opportunity to work closely with UCF power and energy professionals and learn about the challenges facing the university. In this ideal format, industry driven project experience could assist utilities and other power and energy related companies in recruiting future employees.
For more information on this RSO, please visit their website, join their FB page, or attend a meeting.