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Hannah Hollinger

Hannah Hollinger

Senior design students bring floating solar to UCF retention pond

“Geoff meet Rubin, Rubin meet Geoff. You’re working together for your Senior Design project.”

It all started with an interest in the glamorous solar panel. Initially, Rubin York had the idea to heat water using the waste heat generated from solar panels. Geoffrey Gregory had the idea to create a novel solar phone charger. Professor Stresau, the Senior Design Coordinator, recognized the shared interest and introduced the two, and the team expanded thereafter.

Last week, the Senior Design team of five, Rubin York, Geoffrey Gregory, Rebecca Shea, William Rumplik, and Rudolph Jara, finally saw their plan transform from paper to a tangible reality when a 5KW floating solar array was installed in an on-campus retention pond. The pilot project, assuming a success, is expected to amount to a 900KW array at full scale, where the energy generated will add to the campus energy grid to completely offset the Bright House Stadium’s current energy usage. This offset is part of Sustainability Initiatives’ goal to reach 15% carbon neutrality by 2020 under the Climate Action Plan.

Following the team’s establishment, the floating solar project was passed on to them with the oversight of David Norvell, Assistant Vice President for Sustainability Initiatives. The group had a lot to prove in the project’s design concept; the floating solar array had to be physically realizable and safe, given its potential to move in the incidence of a hurricane or major change in water level.