Green energy is being incorporated more into the curriculum after students helped install solar panels at Moraine Valley Community College. The panels were purchased with funds from a $5,000 grant from the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN).

Students taking Air Conditioning Theory and Basic Electrical Controls this semester helped install the solar voltaic unit, power cabinets, batteries and wiring under the supervision of Tom Varlotta, adjunct instructor of Heating and Air Conditioning, and Steve Brasel, Mechanical Technologies department chair.

The equipment was installed on a shelf and in the windows of the tools and supplies room in the college’s technology building (Building T). The solar power apparatus will be incorporated into the learning outcomes and lesson plans for HAC-105 (Air Conditioning Theory), HAC-111 (Basic Electrical Controls), HAC-150 (Advanced Electrical Controls) and HAC-165 (Sustainable Energy).

Moraine Valley received the IGEN grant to implement educational programming around energy efficiency, yielding this project. The panels will not only help teach students but also supply 120-volt power to some new refrigeration training boards rather than plugging into the college’s electrical power supply.

“This was a great project that the students really enjoyed to install, wire and program. It gives them a firsthand experience of why solar power is becoming such a big part of our industry through sustainability,” Brasel said. “It’s great to see the theory of sustainable energy put into practical use.”