Friday, June 29, 2012

Veterans speak: new Voice of Art video

check out the first installment of a new Voice Of Art video produced for Iraq Veterans Against the War by I Am Other:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Local Students Win Awards for Solar Designs

This article was published in today's Austin American-Statesman:

Austin Solar Day Attracts Students with Bright Ideas
by Farzad Mashhood

Some Pflugerville High School students are using the sun to power a light bulb that can eradicate microbes in water.

A senior at the Renaissance Academy, a North Austin private school, found a more efficient way to angle rooftop solar panels to maximize the cooling it gives a building.

And a group of Taylor High School students are powering a movie night — projector, sound system, Blu-ray player and all — in the city's Robinson Park on Saturday using a system of solar panels and batteries they built into the back of a green GMC Safari van.

Those were the two second- and first-place winners at the Austin Solar Day's high school photovoltaic competition. The engineers judging the field had a hard time deciding on the winner, so they ended up naming a pair of second-place winners and a pair of third-place winners out of the seven high schools represented Sunday at the Austin Convention Center.

"It's going to take this next generation of young people to bring their enthusiasm and hard work to bear on the scientific and engineering problems needed to make the third generation of solar technology a reality," B.J. Stanbery said. Stanbery, the founder and chief science officer of HelioVolt, an Austin-based solar panel manufacturer, chaired the Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, a weekend affair for solar industry professionals — in Austin for the first time — that puts on the annual public event to show people what solar power can do.

During Sunday's Solar Day, about 500 visitors perused the booths showcasing everything from the solar power-related academic offerings of Austin Community College to recent research on solar power by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. But the highlight for many was the seven schools — some with teams of about a dozen students — represented in the photovoltaic competition.

Stanbery, who helped pick the winners, said his personal favorite was a more scientific project that found a certain berry's dye can help solar panels generate more electricity.

"I inserted blackberry and raspberry dye into the cells and wanted to see which generates the most voltage," said Aditi Sharma, a sophomore at South Austin's Bowie High School. She found the blackberry dye, which is darker and more absorbent of light energy, was better.

Jessica Carr, a senior at Taylor High School who helped build the 36 solar panels on top of the van, said she was surprised with the first-place finish for what started in February as a school club doing mostly book work that eventually turned into a student-led project.

"The only word I can think of is ‘wow,' " she said.

--Austin American-Statesman, June 4, 2012