Engineers Without Borders Sol Stations

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $14,340

Letter of Intent:

The Local Projects sector of the University of Washington Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) will design and implement phone and computer charging stations powered by wind and solar energy. These stations will be located throughout The University of Washington Seattle campus. The goal of this project is to provide sustainable, and convenient charging for students, and to illustrate how clean, renewable energy can power student lives. This project will begin in a research and development phase.

1. Environmental Impact

Part of the EWB mission is to create lasting, sustainable change following the ideal of “Teach someone to fish, they eat for a lifetime”, which follows the goal of sustainable building and growth. To achieve this ideal we are using renewable sources of energy: wind and solar. The UW is a part of Seattle City Light’s “Green Up Program”, which means 100% of the energy it buys is renewable energy, yet many students don’t know this. If students see a wind turbine, or a solar panel, charging their phones it changes the way they think about energy. It promotes this idea of using renewable energy to power their everyday lives. These stations will also provide technical knowledge and real world engineering skills to the members of the UW chapter of EWB, who will be designing this system. 

2. Student Leadership & Involvement

UW Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, Local Projects Sector, will lead this project. This is a student run chapter that focuses on developing and honing technical engineering expertise. The local projects team, made up of Civil, Environmental, Electrical, Mechanical, and Human Centered Design Engineers, will design a working prototype. We have professional mentors who can assist this mainly student led project.

3. Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change

Busy college students on the go need to use their digital devices for work and to keep track of their lives. Having a convenient way to charge these devices is critical to student success. If students realize that this power is  renewable it will promote the idea of sustainable power. UW EWB will promote our project at fundraising events, at meetings, and on our website. This will help to spread the word beyond our campus to the surrounding Seattle community. A section of the local projects team will also work on a poster and sticker campaign. We will put these posters up around the school which will teach and illustrate the way in which we used solar and wind power to charge their devices. The stickers can be a way to promote our ideas to students, who might paste them on their water bottles and computers, promoting sustainability everywhere they go. A monthly focus on any of the three pillars of sustainability, social, economic and environmental, could be illustrated on the stations. For example we could discuss how UW has composting facilities located around campus, and how to properly use them. We will also promote our project at events like the Earth Day Festival and the Sustainability Fair for CSF in October.

4. Feasibility, Accountability, & Sustainability

To create a sustainable product, our team must first research and develop a “prototype” which works in the most efficient manner. Each station will consist of a high capacity battery pack to hold charges. Depending on location and design choice, a wind turbine or solar panel will be mounted atop the station. This power producer will be connected to a circuit system which will convert the mechanical energy of the wind, or the photovoltaic energy of solar light, into electrical power for storage in the battery. The circuit system at the station will be inside of a locked box which will be hidden from view. It will be accessible if repairs are necessary. Outlets for charging will be located on the outside of the station for student use. We might even provide Apple and Android charging plugs. The whole station will be protected by weatherproof casing, so as to block it from rain.

Another aspect of the project’s feasibility is to discover the best locations for these chargers. We will have some near buses, outside libraries, and in places like the quad or red square, where students charge while enjoying the outdoors. The goal is to provide convenient access for students. Phase one will test the product in the school environment to establish the most efficient design, and optimize the sustainability.

Our Local Projects team is lead by Maeve Harris, who has worked on wind turbine efficiency. The head of International Projects, Bryan Bednarski, worked on a project that set up charging systems for electric cars. Sage Berglund, Head of Fundraising, worked on solar cookstoves, and solar technology. EWB has mentors who can advise on large scale, technical questions.

We need to know where on campus we will be allowed to build, and place the stations. This will require us to meet and talk with UW Facility Services. We already have a relationship with them for the on campus Solar Kiln.

Engineers Without Borders is a longstanding club at UW. International Projects last at least 5 years so EWB has a record of staying with projects until they are finished. As a chapter of EWB we will finish our project and have a written analysis of the project describing how the goals have been met. As a campus community we must keep pushing forward to create sustainable systems. As part of EWB’s mission we will not only finish this project, but also keep it running sustainably. Part of our funds will be allocated to maintenance repairs.

Solar/Wind Charging Station Budget (Per station)            
Item Cost/Unit Units Total per Item      
High Capacity Lipo Battery Pack (20000 mAh) $150 2 $300.00        
Solar Panel (100 W) $100 4 $400        
Wind Turbine (450 W) $400 1 $400        
Microcontroller / power management $80 1 $80        
Printed Circuit Board / voltage divider $50 1 $50 * Can order for same price in sets of 3-4
Wiring, cabling, charge ports, connectors $100 n/a $50 * Will only need to purchase once in bulk
Analog Circuitry $20 n/a $20        
System stand $200 1 $150        
Weatherproof casing $100 1 $100        
Panel/turbine mount
$150 1 $150        
Bolts and concrete adhesive $30 1 $30        
    Total: $1,730        

If we construct 8, which is the original plan, the total will be $13,840

$500 for any unforeseen maintenance costs.

Total Cost: $14,340

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Andreas Passas (Project Lead)