Student organizations and faculty researchers work together to engineer solutions to make campus more environmentally friendly.Image By: Courtesy of UW Solar Ambassadors
UW-Madison engineering community collaborates to combat climate change
Student organizations at UW-Madison have pushed building-by-building to make the city and campus source renewable energy.
Last year, the UW-Madison Solar Ambassadors raised $24,000 to help support a renewable energy initiative that cut energy costs for low-income households in Madison and the surrounding counties by extending solar energy to local homes and businesses. The project’s main goal is to reduce carbon footprints, or total emissions, caused by a person or organization.
This year’s project will help bring solar power to Primates Incorporated, a group in Westfield, Wisc. dedicated to the humane treatment of former research lab monkeys. The money saved on electric bills will be used to take better care of the monkeys, according to Will Nicolson, a UW-Madison Solar Ambassadors member and leader of the Primates Incorporated project. Part of the savings will also enter a solar seed fund by RE-volv that will invest in other renewable energy projects at 13 universities from California to Ohio and South Carolina.
“It was cool to see clean energy in action, to see how it’s upheld and how many people benefit from it,” Nicolson said.
The WiscWind team’s main work focuses on objectives set by the U.S. Department of Energy in the Collegiate Wind Competition for undergraduates to train and compete in the core skills of constructing wind energy projects.
These skills include building a wind turbine prototype and testing it in a wind tunnel. Scott Williams, the faculty advisor of WiscWind said there is also a siting challenge where students design hypothetical wind farms. WiscWind won last year’s siting challenge at the American Wind Energy Association in Chicago and hopes to take the lead again in this year’s competition.