Gift will fund solar panel, electrical research

Thanks to a generous gift from utility company Evergy, students in the College of Engineering at Wichita State University can learn about and conduct research on solar power technology, as well as how to protect an electric grid from short circuiting.

There will also be a new faculty fellow position added in the College of Engineering.

The gift will fund all of these new initiatives: To make sure Wichita State students have the skills they need to succeed in the work force.

Evergy recognizes the importance of contributing to the education of engineers who might someday be working for the utility, said Jeff Martin, Evergy vice president for customer and community operations.

“We want to do our part to ensure the engineers of tomorrow are equipped with the tools necessary to help advance our world through their innovations,” Martin said. “This gift strengthens the relationship between Evergy and Wichita State because it affords the university the opportunity to teach students and conduct research in the burgeoning areas of solar energy and data science.”

What this gift includes:

  • Solar panels will soon be installed on the roof of the John Bardo Center on WSU’s Innovation Campus so students and faculty can study this important renewable energy source and conduct research. The panels will be just steps away from the Renewable Energy Lab, which will be named for Evergy in recognition of the gift.
  • The new Evergy substation on the WSU campus will include real-time data to a power lab in WSU’s Wallace Hall. Faculty will use the data to teach and do research on protecting the electric grid from short circuits and other problems that can occur.
  • The faculty fellow position honors WSU professor Ward Jewell. Funds donated by Evergy will provide resources to the faculty member who holds the position in recognition of their commitment to educating aspiring engineers.

Jewell praised the quality of experiential learning that students will have by working directly with solar energy transmission and data from the power system serving the WSU campus.

“That’s what the students value and want,” he said.

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