Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

STUDENTS OUTSHINE RAIN AT ENERGYWHIZ OLYMPICS

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

COCOA, May 3, 2014—Despite discouraging weather forecasts, more than 450 students traveled from as far away as Key West and Tallahassee to compete in the EnergyWhiz Olympics at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center today. The sun didn’t shine, but the competitions went on…well, at least part of them.

In the Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, ovens were judged only on design. The morning started out cloudy and oven temperatures only reached 100 degrees before the heavy rains appeared. Also impacted by the rain was the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), a model solar car race.

“We were hopeful the rain would go around us, but not this year. It’s the first time in 14 years that we couldn’t hold the Junior Solar Sprint,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 education coordinator at FSEC.

The JSS and cooking portion of the solar ovens have been postponed until next week.

Not severely impacted by the rain were Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge, and the Critter Comfort Cottage, an energy-efficient and green building pet home design competition.

Independent of the weather was the Hydrogen Challenge, where students utilized a fuel cell in a creative timing apparatus, built with several Rube Goldberg-type steps.

“Join us Saturday, May 12 as performance of the solar cookers and car designs are put to the test. Vehicles will be raced and teams will cook their solar recipes for culinary experts to experience,” said Schleith.

 

WINNERS

Solar Energy Cookoff

Best Design – Elementary Division

1st Place – Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbour Beach

2nd Place – Lewis Carroll Elementary, Merritt Island

3rd Place – Martinez Middle, Lutz

Best Design – Middle School Division

1st Place – Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

2nd Place – Girl Scout Troop 30027, Stuart

3rd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Best Design – High School Division

1st Place – Pine Ridge High, Deltona

2nd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

WOW! Award – Elementary Division

Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbour Beach

WOW! Award – Middle School Division

Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

WOW! Award – High School Division

Lyman High, Longwood

 

Hydrogen Challenge

1st Place – Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

2nd Place – Milwee Middle, Longwood

3rd Place – Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

Precision Award – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

WOW! Award – Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

 

Energy Innovations

Middle School Division

1st Place – Gulf Coast Academy, Palm City

2nd Place – Global Prospective, West Palm Beach

3rd Place – Milwee Middle, Longwood

High School Division

1st Place – Key West High, Key West

2nd Place – Island Coast High, Cape Coral

3rd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

WOW! Award Middle School Division

Gulf Coast Academy, Palm City

WOW! Award High School Division

Key West High, Key West

 

Critter Comfort Cottage

Middle School Division

1st Place – Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

2nd Place – Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

3rd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High

High School Division

1st Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place – Key West High, Key West

3rd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

WOW! Award – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Junior Solar Sprint

Best Design – Elementary Division

1st Place – Gulf Coast Middle, Spring Hill

2nd Place – Martinez Middle, Lutz

3rd Place – Imagine Charter of North Lauderdale, North Lauderdale

Best Design – Middle School Division

1st Place – Brandon Robotics Engineering Academy, Brandon

2nd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

3rd Place – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Most Innovative – Elementary Division

1st Place – Gulf Coast Middle, Spring Hill

2nd Place – Gulf Coast Middle, Spring Hill

3rd Place – Pine View School, Osprey

Most Innovative – Middle School Division

1st Place – Conway Middle, Orlando

2nd Place – Brandon Robotics Engineering Academy, Brandon

3rd Place – Cocoa Jr/Sr High, Cocoa

For more information, contact:

High Resolution Photos Available at: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/download/communications/

 

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 fuels, batteries, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and photovoltaic (solar electric) systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at
321-638-1015.

 
America’s Partnership University: The University of Central Florida, the nation’s second-largest university with nearly 60,000 students, has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation in its first 50 years. Today, the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s future while providing students with
real-world experiences that help them succeed after graduation. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.
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PR14-02

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ENERGY LEADERS EMERGE ON MAY 3RD

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Energized Students Demonstrate Skills at the EnergyWhiz Olympics on the Space Coast

WHAT:

The 12th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics will bring together students from across Florida, converging in Cocoa, to showcase their renewable energy projects. Student teams will race solar cars, demonstrate creative solar and hydrogen projects, present solar oven designs and cooking skills, and reveal energy-efficient pet homes, all highlighting their energy knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM).

NEW:  An Electric Vehicle Ride & Drive—which will include a Nissan Leaf—will be available for adults to experience.

The public is invited to attend free of charge.

Also new this year is the Critter Comfort Cottage. In this competition, students (4th-12th grades) utilize energy-efficient and green building design and construction techniques to create the most cost-effective, comfortable “home” for a critter.

The Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff (4th-12th grades) challenges students to design and build solar cookers, and cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun.

The Hydrogen Challenge (6th-12th grades) demonstrates a student’s understanding of energy transfers through a creative, Rube Goldberg-type apparatus that includes a hydrogen fuel cell in one of its steps.

The Junior Solar Sprint (4th-8th grades) challenges students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.

The Energy Innovations program (6th-12th grades) is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge.

The Electrathon (high school students and older) features go-cart-type vehicles, powered by an electric motor and batteries, that must be skillfully designed, built and driven to maximize distance traveled within a time limit.

WHO:

More than 600 students statewide will show off their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills.

Approximate number of teams in each competition:
Junior Solar Sprint:  50
Hydrogen Challenge:  16
Energy Innovations:  20
Solar Cookoff:  40
Critter Comfort Cottage:  16
Electrathon:  10

WHEN:

Saturday, May 3, 2014
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE:

UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center
On the Eastern Florida State College Cocoa Campus
1679 Clearlake Road
Cocoa, FL 32922-5703

WHY:

As the photovoltaic industry continues to grow rapidly in the U.S.—41 percent in 2013—and as alternative fueled vehicles increase in popularity and soon become mainstream, our future workforce will rely on students with strong Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills.

These hands-on, renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources, and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

HOW:

For interviews or additional information please contact:

Note: photographs from previous events available upon request.

For more information, visit: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/energywhiz/ or watch a video at http://vimeo.com/9522310.

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 fuels, batteries, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and photovoltaic (solar electric) systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at
321-638-1015.

America’s Partnership University: The University of Central Florida, the nation’s second-largest university with nearly 60,000 students, has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation in its first 50 years. Today, the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s future while providing students with real-world experiences that help them succeed after graduation. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.

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PR14-01

DOT Selects UCF to Develop ‘Smart Grid’ for Plug-in Electric Vehicles

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

By Sherri Shields

COCOA, October 24, 2013 – As interest in electric vehicles continues to keep the automotive industry charged, the nation is strategizing how to best integrate plug-in vehicles with its electrical grid and highways. Now, with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the creation of the first transportation center with a focus on electric vehicles, the University of Central Florida will help chart that course in Florida.

Photograph of electric vehicle only parking

Dedicated parking and charging stations for electric vehicles might soon become commonplace.

The Electric Vehicle Transportation Center operated by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center is a newly funded, four-year, $9 million research effort to help create the nation’s electric-vehicle transportation network. Research conducted by the center will help transportation planners prepare our nation’s highways for the influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), while developing “smart grid” applications that will strengthen the ability of our electric system to accommodate the power demands of electric vehicles. PEVs need a reliable, predictable network of charging stations to allow them to travel long distances without the fear of “running out of fuel.” Workplace charging, community charging, and highway fast-charging systems are in development. A new PEV transportation network designed in conjunction with the modernization of our electric grid system will result in a sustainable highway and energy network.

“Today, electric vehicles—using Florida utility power—operate at an equivalent gasoline price of 99 cents a gallon,” said FSEC director James Fenton. “With fuel costs that low, it’s no surprise projections indicate that Florida will have as many as 500,000 electric vehicles on its roads within 10 years, placing an unprecedented demand on today’s utility grid.”

Plug-in electric vehicle sales in the U.S., led by the Volt, Leaf and plug-in Prius, were 50,000 in 2012. The upward trend in sales is expected to continue during the next several years as automakers introduce up to 40 different plug-in models.

Transformation of the U.S transportation system into one that uses electricity and its integration into a dynamic electrical grid will occur over many years and require extensive research and development.

The new Electric Vehicle Transportation Center will leverage the resources of the University of Central Florida and its partner universities – the University of Hawaii and Tuskegee University – to conduct the research and development, and to train and support the scientists, engineers and technicians of the future.

The University of Central Florida’s EVTC is among 33 universities funded to address critical transportation challenges facing the nation. To view a map of the selected universities, go to: http://www.rita.dot.gov/utc/sites/rita.dot.gov.utc/files
/Consortiums_2014.pdf

For more information, contact the EVTC program director David Block at block@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1001.

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 fuels, batteries, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and photovoltaic (solar electric) systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

50 Years of Achievement: The University of Central Florida, the nation’s second-largest university with nearly 60,000 students, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. UCF has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation, and today the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. Known as America’s leading partnership university, UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s success now and into the future. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.

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.

Judges talking to students around full-size photovoltaic panel.

Judges discuss Energy Innovations project, "Sunfisher," with Edgewood Jr/Sr High team.

Fortunately, the rain held off until later in the day, allowing the Battery Assisted Transport (B.A.T.) Mobile, model-size electric cars, and the Electrathon, go-cart size electric cars, to compete without incident.

The Hydrogen Challenge, located indoors, attracted a large audience as students demonstrated their understanding of energy transfers through a custom-built Rube Goldberg-type apparatus. “The phenomenally creative and intricate contraptions were a challenge to judge,” said Eric Hoepnner, former middle school science teacher. Built with a hydrogen fuel cell in one of the steps, the timed machines were judged on accuracy, innovation, complexity, technical sophistication, and their use of fuel cell technology. Nearly doubling in size from last year, this event is expected to have even more participants next year. “There’s a huge coolness factor with this event,” Hoeppner added.

Students knelt down on yellow track watching model electric cars race side-by-side while crowd watches.

Students race their B.A.T. Mobiles

These hands-on renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

Susan Schleith, energy education director at FSEC says, “As our event continues to grow each year, my goal is to establish regional events around the state, with the ultimate competition taking place at FSEC. This would allow even more students to participate, and create a broadened awareness statewide. Tight school budgets and travel costs provide challenges that some student teams just can’t overcome.”

(more…)

Homeowners Have Shot at $1,500 Energy Savings Through UCF Study

Monday, June 4th, 2012

COCOA, June 04, 2012 — Want $1,500 worth of energy improvements to your home, for free?

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is seeking 30 homes in Brevard County and up to 30 from Dade or Broward counties to participate in an energy-retrofit study.  Those selected will benefit from the installation of energy-saving devices worth at least $1,500.

Photo of research knelt down adjusting controller of blower door for energy audit.

An energy audit will be performed on homes selected for the retrofit study.

A limited number of homes may qualify for a more extensive retrofit remodel worth $10,000 to $15,000.

Eligible participants are FPL customers in single-family, detached residences with only one electrical breaker panel, a single central air-conditioning system, electric space and water heating, and Internet service with a home Wi-Fi network.  Homes must be owner-occupied year-round and have been lived in for at least one year.  Preference will be given to homes built prior to the year 2000.

Those selected for the study, which begins this month, can expect the installation of such cost-saving items as: water heater blankets and pipe insulation, low-flow showerheads, CFL bulbs, and home and duct air sealing. (more…)

FSEC Scientist Receives UCF Institutes and Centers Award for Excellence in Research

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Nazim Muradov, right, accepts award from UCF's Vice President of Research and Commercialization, M.J. Soileau.

COCOA, May 15, 2012 – A researcher who has developed a novel method that uses sponge-like carbon particles to clean up oil spills in water and among some other exciting work at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has received one of UCF’s highest honors.

Nazim Muradov, a researcher at FSEC since 1990, recently received the UCF Institute and Centers Award for Excellence in Research.

Aside from the promising sponge-like carbon clean up method, Muradov also developed a novel high-energy density seawater-based hydrogen generator that can be used to propel Navy’s unmanned undersea vehicles.

“I am honored to receive this award because it underscores the high value and impact of research work conducted at FSEC,” states Muradov.

(more…)

New Homes Wanted for Energy Research Study

Friday, May 11th, 2012

COCOA, May 11, 2012 — The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is seeking homes to participate in a State of Florida-sponsored energy research study.  Homeowners of selected homes will be compensated $200 for completion of the energy audit and participation in the energy monitoring study.

Eligible participants are homes that were permitted and built after March 2009, have 1500-2300 square feet of living area, and are owner-occupied year-round.

The FSEC research team will conduct an energy audit within each home and monitor energy use for approximately a three-month period.  Testing will examine house airtightness, air conditioner performance and duct leakage.  The FSEC research team will also collect the previous year’s energy bills.

If you are interested in participating in this research project, please visit http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/CodeResearch or contact Jeremy Nelson at 407-243-8197 or jnelson@fsec.ucf.edu by May 31, 2012.

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PR12-03

Energy Research Study Seeks Two-Story Homes in 13 Counties

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

COCOA, November 29, 2011 — The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is seeking qualified two-story homes to participate in a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored “wind washing” study that will begin next month.

Eligible participants will be compensated $50 for the initial study, and up to $680 for those who are selected to participate in the monitoring and repair portion of the project; repair costs will be paid by FSEC. Homes for the study are being sought in the following Florida counties: Brevard, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Lake, Marion, Putnam, Flagler, St. Johns, Clay, Duval and Nassau.

Diagram of how wind-driven attic air is pushed into the space between floors.

Wind-driven attic air is pushed into the space between floors.

Wind washing involves the flow of air from an attic space into the floor cavity between the first and second stories of the house. Homes with wind washing are likely to experience increased utility costs and, in some cases, indoor comfort problems. (more…)

Solar Power Systems Educate Students, Reduce Costs for Schools and Provide Emergency Power

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

COCOA, July 14, 2011 – Nearly 100 Florida schools will be soaking up solar rays to power their buildings this fall thanks to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

FSEC, a University of Central Florida research institute, is providing each school with a 10-kilowatt, solar photovoltaic (PV) system valued at more than $80,000. These systems allow schools to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into energy to help reduce electricity costs, and they also serve as generators during a power outage. Installation of the systems – under way now – will reduce energy costs by up to $1,500 a year and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The photovoltaic system at Oak Hammock Middle School in Ft. Myers is near completion.

The photovoltaic system at Oak Hammock Middle School in Ft. Myers is near completion.

(more…)