These images show prototypes of a transparent and
flexible solar cell that Forsyth Tech nanotechnology
students have developed to increase the
energy efficiency of commercial greenhouses.
"(Winston-Salem, NC) – The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), has named a team of Forsyth Tech nanotechnology students one of 10 finalists in the second annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC). This is a federally funded program that encourages students to develop skills for innovation and entrepreneurship by developing and presenting STEM solutions to real-world problems in the areas of food, energy
This year, CCIC focused on a priority area of research for the NSF: Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) program, which seeks new ways to help the world deal with growing resource demands. The teams were challenged to identify ways to improve natural resource sustainability.
Forsyth Tech’s team proposal offered an innovative solution to modernizing today’s greenhouses to fit individual customer needs by incorporating the use of renewable, cost-efficient energy sources through the use of nanotechnology. Team members include Shannon Coalson, Edward Cruz-Ortiz, Adam Afifi, Jack Landgraf and Julian Houston.
The students determined that the two types of greenhouses currently on the market—a permanent glass structure and a more temporary plastic structure—can cost farmers thousands of dollars a month in energy bills as a result, for example, of running fans around the clock to maintain humidity and exposing plants and fruit to 12 hours of light per day. The team proposal addresses the creation of electricity out of the plastic that covers greenhouses.
Click here to hear the Forsyth Tech nanotech students describe their proposal.
“We are proud that our students’ hard work has been recognized by the National Science Foundation,” said Dr. Mehrdad Tajkarimi, nanotechnology instructor. “Their proposal is a great reflection of the kind of innovative thinking that we encourage every day in our lab.”
"Community colleges provide a unique avenue for developing our STEM workforce and broadening participation, and the CCIC is a platform that highlights the innovative efforts of students and professors to enhance their knowledge and contribute to solving challenging issues," said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF's assistant director for Education.
The Forsyth Tech team will join the other nine finalists at a four-day Innovation Boot Camp in Arlington, Va. in June. The boot camp will provide professional development sessions on a variety of entrepreneurial skills relevant to innovation in both the private and public sectors. During the camp, a first and second place team will be determined by a panel of judges and awarded monetary prizes. The first place prize is $1,500 per student team member; the second place prize is $1,200 per student team member.
The other nine CCIC finalists and their project names are:
· Northeast Community College, Nebraska: CROP-IT Solution to Regulate Irrigation Equipment
· Tulsa Community College, Oklahoma: Automated Microfluidic Colorimetry Lab for Aquaponic Monitoring (AMCLAM)
· Normandale Community College, Minnesota: Wastewater Hydrokinetic Turbine
· Perimeter College at Georgia State University, Georgia: Autonomous Technology Lake Algae Skimmer
· Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Wisconsin: Junk Yard Generator
· Henry Ford College, Michigan: Rescue Restaurant Food Waste to Address Hunger
· Red Rocks Community College, Colorado: Cooling Tower Blow Down Water Conservation
· Bucks County Community College, Pennsylvania: The Wind Catcher Max Wind Tower
· Virginia Western Community College, Virginia: Efficient Mechanical Collection Method of Recovering Waste Apples.
Forsyth Tech provides students with flexible educational pathways to a competitive workforce for the community and global economy. The college offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in more than 200 programs of study, including programs that promote personal and professional development through non-credit courses and seminars, as well as customized training for business and industry.
Forsyth Tech is the fifth largest community college in North Carolina and serves more than 35,000 students with approximately 1,500 full and part-time faculty and staff."
- A Press Release