Project: Off-Grid Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station—A Design-Build Project
Kansas State University
What value does a real-world project bring to students?
Students are able to get a more hands on learning experience. It makes a big difference when they know that the project they are working on will actually be built and installed. Students take ownership of their work in a way that mimics what they’ll be doing post graduation.
How do you decide what projects to work on?
Funding is often a challenge for us, with limited opportunities available within our department. However, there is a significant amount of research that can be done without funding, looking at what new ideas are on the horizon and how they will eventually shape the design of our buildings. Typically it’s thru reading articles in various engineering publications that an idea is sparked. Once that inspiration strikes, it’s hard not to pursue a project of interest.
How did this project prepare students for professional practice?
Students worked in a collaborative process that’s similar to what they’ll see in professional practice. We had electrical engineers, structural engineers and contractors participate throughout the design process with multiple iterations and pricing required to come to a final design. Students had to apply the skills they’ve learned in their coursework. Additionally, students led the way on determining the best design solutions with input from licensed engineers to ensure their solutions were feasible.
What advice do you have for other programs wanting to add similar collaborative projects to their curriculum?
It’s critical to have the right students and faculty involved in the process. Having dedicated and hard working students who were engaged with the work made all the difference. Weekly meetings also were essential for making sure all parties were kept up to date on the design.