Solar panels energize classrooms


The solar panels atop Moser Hall help generate energy for classrooms and contribute to the education of students in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Martin Abraham, dean of STEM, said the technology within the panels is more valuable as a learning tool.

“They are mostly used for demonstrating the technology to our students,” he said. “It is not valuable for the energy generated because it would take many years to save as much money as the panels cost.”

Michael Costarell, an associate professor of mechanical engineering technology at Youngstown State University, said he uses the solar panels in class to study renewable energy.

Abraham said the panels serve as a useful tool; they offer real-life examples and models.

“We look at the energy source, record how much energy is captured and then we record the total amount omitted,” Abraham said. “When we calculate the total amount captured, then we are able to calculate the ratio efficacy.”

Ganesh Kudav, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at YSU, said the panels don’t always work as intended.

“On hot summer days when the sun is beating down on the panels, it will convert light energy into electricity,” he said. “But as the temperature of the panel goes up, the efficiency to convert from light to electrical energy goes down drastically.”

Kudav said he works with his students to figure out different solutions to the problem.

“We design ways to automatically cool them,” he said. “I work with the students with my ideas, and if they have something better, we will go with their idea.”