“Empowering Kids” through Clean Energy Education

Written by: Olivia Ortegon

C2E2 was all a buzz preparing for a visit from 80 middle school students from the summer program “Empowering Kids”. This organization is a summer program, whose visit to C2E2 exposed the students to various engineering disciplines and the different environments and resources available for energy research at UConn.

Students who participated came from Hartford, East Hartford, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, and Stratford.  The outreach event inspired young students to pursue engineering and clean energy research. The event started off with a presentation by Alanna Gado and Nicole Beauregard about the importance of clean and renewable energy for the future.

Following the presentation, students were escorted through the laboratories to witness demonstrations and lab tours from Andres Ortiz Godoy showing high power magnification using a Scanning Electron Microscope, Zhiqiao Zeng illustrating materials applications using Reactive Spray Deposition, James Sweeney demonstrating Proton Exchange Membranes and C2E2’s fuel cell go-kart, and Yinyu Wang demonstrating electro-spinning technologies. The students asked several great questions as they were introduced to the research being conducted at C2E2 to promote clean energy.

The event extended to the Longley building where demonstrations by Professors Ali Bazzi and Sung Yeul Park, as well as graduate assistants, Leila Chebbo, Pengwei Li, Thomas Cusson, Spencer Macri, Uilliam Kutrolli, and Mohammad Fares El Hajj Chehade were presented.  Professor Bazzi demonstrated how solar power can warm hot chocolate. His group also demonstrated an inverter for DC/AC renewable energy conversion and power systems for space habitats. Professor Park’s displays included demonstrations on smart grids and a train using wireless power transfer. These examples provided educational experiences that helped the students see how clean energy can be applied in real life.

Following the successful event, they were all treated to ice cream at the UConn Dairy Bar, where students and faculty alike were able to enjoy a cold treat after a day full of learning about the importance of clean energy and its effect on our future.

Many thanks to everyone for their participation and their contributions for making this event a success!

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