Archive for May, 2013

UCF Professor Wins Research Incentive Award

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Danielle Daniel

Congratulations to Dr. Nahid Mohajeri, who received a University of Central Florida (UCF) 2012-2013 Research Incentive Award in recognition of her exceptional research efforts. Dr. Mohajeri is an associate research professor at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

Professor Nahid Mohajeri

Each year, UCF recognizes faculty members and research staff who have an outstanding research, scholarly, or creative record that advances the body of knowledge in their field.

“I did not get here all by myself,” states Mohajeri, in response to receiving the award. “I have been helped, guided, and given opportunities by many people during my tenure at FSEC that I will forever be grateful,” she explains.

Dr. Mohajeri’s recent contributions to the research community include the development of highly durable proton exchange composite membranes for fuel cells, a technology based on the addition of cerium oxide nanoparticles to the membrane. When tested, this innovative approach   improved fuel cells’ membrane stability and performance, resulting in a sevenfold decrease in the open circuit voltage decay rate compared to the baseline membrane. Membranes are at the heart of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and by increasing their durability, goals for developing fuel cells as a reliable, alternate energy source are attainable.

Other accomplishments include the creation of a chemochromic hydrogen leak detection tool known as “Smart Paint,” which was used by NASA to visually detect colorless and odorless hydrogen leaks. Furthermore, Dr. Mohajeri discovered a new class of catalysts for the hydrolytic cleavage of ammonia borane, one of the promising classes of chemical hydrides for hydrogen storage. She has authored and co-authored more than 30 scientific publications and has received seven patents (awarded and applied). In addition to her research endeavors, Dr. Mohajeri says she considers it an honor as a professor to educate and mentor “the next generation of scientists.”

Regarding future contributions to energy research, Dr. Mohajeri’s diverse background has enabled her to work in various energy research areas. However, one focus in particular has garnered her attention: “The area of soft materials, such as polymers, for energy storage or energy efficiency technologies holds a special place in my overall interests in energy research,” she states.

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Solar Electric System Provides Emergency Power and Teaching Tool for Haines City High School

Friday, May 17th, 2013

By Sherri Shields

COCOA, May 17, 2013 – Students, teachers and the community of Haines City will reap multiple benefits from the new 10,000-watt photovoltaic (PV) system at Haines City High School. The PV system with battery backup will provide emergency power during an outage, reduce daily electricity costs to the school, and serve as a learning resource.

Haines City High School celebrates new 10,000 watt solar electric system with ribbon cutting and solar workshop for teachers. (From left to right, Mike Vergona, Vergona-Bowersox Electric Inc.; Caroline Weaver, Polk County Energy Manager; Peter DeNapoli, Solar World Eastern Region Manager; Patricia Butler, Haines City High School Principal; Stephen Scheloske, Haines City High School Assistant Principal ; Sherri Shields, FSEC Communications; Susan Schleith, FSEC SunSmart E-Shelter Program Manager. Photo Credit: Nick Waters

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida (UCF), held a dedication ceremony and solar workshop for teachers to celebrate the installation of the 42-panel PV system at Haines City High School on Wednesday, May 15th. Coordinated by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, the system, valued at $85,000, is the 85th PV system installed through the SunSmart Schools Emergency Shelter Program.

In conjunction with the dedication, a professional development workshop gave teachers from Haines City High School, Poinciana Academy of Fine Arts in Osceola County, Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County and Montessori World School in Orange County an opportunity to experience hands-on solar activities, showcasing the FSEC curriculum and a companion renewable energy kit. More than 250 teachers have participated in similar workshops, impacting more than 50,000 students statewide.

Teachers participate in a hands-on professional development solar workshop (From left to right: Broderic Ogzewalla, Robin Anderson, and Britton Bouey from Haines City High School, and Raf Baksh from Bloomingdale High School). Photo Credit: Nick Waters

Not only does the PV system reduce electricity costs by up to $1,500 a year and serve as a generator when a power outage occurs, the system also reports performance data to FSEC; the data will be available on energywhiz.com in June. This site will allow students and teachers to analyze PV system performance data to better understand how the technology works. “We hope we never have to use the system as a generator, and we’re excited about the hand-on learning application for our students and teachers. Being able to see the real-time data that our system produces will be a tremendous resource,” said Stephen Scheloske, assistant principal at Haines City High School. (more…)

Renewable Energy Student Teams Energized Even on a Cloudy Day

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

COCOA, May 09, 2013— With clouds in the sky and all eyes on the weather, more than 600 elementary, middle and high school students were energized on Saturday, May 4th. Student teams—from Key West to as far away as North Carolina—gathered at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center on Saturday to demonstrate their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills by competing at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III speaks into megaphone.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III welcomes crowd to EnergyWhiz Olympics.

The daylong event started out cloudy and posed challenges to the solar-dependent competitions, especially the Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off and the Junior Solar Sprint (solar-powered model car) teams. Although weather conditions were less than ideal, the sun managed to peek through the clouds and provide just enough energy for the teams to get through the solar competitions. And although Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge, depend on the sun for their complete product demonstration, teams also created marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to promote their product.

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2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Congratulations to the 2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners:

 

B.A.T. (Battery Assisted Transport) Mobile Challenge

1st Place Race:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Race:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Race:  Salt & Pepper, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

1st Place Design :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Design:  The Anaxagoras, Montessori World Academy, Orlando

 

Energy Innovations

Middle Division

1st Place Design:  Sunny Circus Snacks, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Urban Garden, Howard Middle, Orlando

3rd Place Design:   Cooking Device, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

 

High School Division

1st Place Design:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Suk-A-Poop, Island Coast High, Cape Coral

3rd Place Design:  Solar Bike, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Hydrogen Challenge

Middle Division

1st Place:   The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

2nd Place:  The Kit Kats, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place:  Child’s Play, Gifford Middle, Vero Beach

Most Accurate:  N.E.R.D.S. – New Energy Regeneration Device, Gulf Coast Academy, Spring Hill

 

High School Division

1st Place:  Tiger Engineering, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

2nd Place:  The Domino Theory, Edgewood Jr/ Sr High, Merritt Island

3rd Place:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Most Accurate :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

(more…)

MEDIA ADVISORY: No Shortage of Energy on May 4th — Student-Built Solar Cars, Cookers and Hydrogen Inventions Energize the EnergyWhiz Olympics

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

May 01, 2013

COCOA, FL – More than 650 elementary, middle and high school students—from across Florida—will show off their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics on Saturday, May 4th in Cocoa.

The EnergyWhiz Olympics is a daylong event showcasing student-built projects in solar and hydrogen. These hands-on renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

The public is invited to attend free of charge. The event is located on Brevard Community College’s Cocoa Campus, at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road. Competitions are from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., with an awards ceremony following.

Activities include:

  • The Energy Innovations program (10:00 a.m.) is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designs and constructs a product or artistic work fully powered by photovoltaics (PV), also called solar electric cells. In addition, teams create marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to accompany their products.
  • The Hydrogen Challenge (10:30 a.m.) for students in grades 6 through 12, provide opportunities for student teams to explore hydrogen through hands-on engineering. Students demonstrate an understanding of hydrogen through a creative timing apparatus built with several Rube Goldberg-type steps.
  • The Battery Assisted Transport (BAT) Mobile (11:00 a.m.) challenges students in grades 6 through 8, to build and race model-sized electric cars. The race tests the creative engineering skills of students as they gain hands-on experience in the automotive design process. This event is a component of the Department of Energy’s Middle School Science Bowl.
  • The Junior Solar Sprint (11:30 a.m.) is a competition that challenges middle-school students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.
  • The Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff (1:00 p.m.) challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to design and build solar cookers and cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun.  In Top Chef-style, each dish will be judged by a panel of experts based on taste, ingredients and creativity.
  • The Electrathon (10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) is a competition for high school students and older. The go-cart-type vehicles, powered by an electric motor and batteries, must be skillfully designed, built and driven to maximize distance traveled within a given time limit.
  • In addition, Food Truck Crazy will be on site with 10 different food trucks
    (11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).

For more information, visit

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/energywhiz_olympics/index.htm, or watch a video about the EnergyWhiz Olympics at http://vimeo.com/9522310.

CONTACT:

Susan Schleith, FSEC Education Coordinator, 321-638-1017 or susan@fsec.ucf.edu

Sherri Shields, Asst. Director Communications, 321-638-1019 or sherri@fsec.ucf.edu

Note: photographs from previous years events available upon request.

About FSEC: The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 2nd largest in the nation with more than 59,000 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information, visit http://news.ucf.edu.

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