San Antonio

– Three St. Mary’s University Engineering students will be recognized for their environmental efforts on June 2nd at the City of San Antonio’s 2nd Annual Green Building Awards Luncheon. In April for St. Mary’s Fiesta Oyster Bake, the students, with the help of Corbo Electric Company Inc., built a 1.4-kilowatt solar panel to provide electricity to light more than a dozen food booths. Nathan Churchwell, Supratim Srinivasan, Stephanie Crowell and a Corbo Electric company representative will be recognized for their green building efforts with an Honorable Mention by Build San Antonio Green.

The St. Mary’s students built the solar panel system in response to the Mayor Julián Castro’s Fiesta Verde campaign, which was the Mayor’s idea to make Fiesta more green by promoting recycling efforts at most of the major Fiesta events. Churchwell, Srinivasan and Crowell answered that call and ‘one upped it’ by building a solar panel system equipped with a backup battery that lit 14 food booths for 40 hours – even with the cloudy skies and rain leading up to and during Fiesta Oyster Bake! It took the awesome threesome just under a month to build the impressive eight solar panel system; they then affixed it atop a 14 foot tall steel pole on the soccer field next to their Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) Frito pie booth.

There’s talk that the students’ extra credit work for Fiesta Verde may have even sparked a green competition for next year’s Fiesta which is fine by Churchwell, Srinivasan and Crowell. They’ll be working between now and Fiesta Oyster Bake 2011 to make their system bigger, better and more efficient. Next year, they want to power more booths, providing more than just the lighting. They also hope to put it on a trailer, making it mobile and possible to be used at other community events. Who knows – maybe one year all of Fiesta Oyster Bake will be solar powered!

Churchwell, Srinivasan and Crowell will be seniors at the start of the fall 2010 semester. This project will count as the students’ senior design project, which is a graduation requirement of all engineering majors by St. Mary’s School of Science, Engineering and Technology.

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