Solar-Powered Stop

Earlier this year, teams of 3 to 5 students from every Ohio State campus submitted projects that support Ohio State’s sustainability goals by entering the ENGIE Smart Campus Challenge. Students from the College of Engineering were one of six teams to advance to the final stage of the competition and received a $20,000 grant to install solar panels at a campus bus stop. 

David Tomasko, associate dean of the College of Engineering, says, “Ohio State prides itself on providing experiential education opportunities for our engineering students, and this is an excellent example of students applying their education to harness technology in service to the campus community.”

As part of the project, the bus stop also will provide phone charging outlets and an information display powered by the solar panels. Four panels are attached to the roof of the bus stop, which powers a 49 inch digital display. USB outlets are available for use beneath the benches. On the display screen, passengers will see a real-time bus map similar to what’s found on the Ohio State app. Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) information, sustainability tips and opportunities to get involved in campus sustainability efforts will be displayed. 

Transportation and Traffic Management (TTM) played a key role in coordinating transportation logistics for the project. Sean Roberts, transportation systems coordinator, oversees the real-time bus tracking system. He’s been meeting with the students and ENGIE since earlier this year. 

“I thought the concept was really cool,” Roberts said. “I like the idea of utilizing solar power for the project.”

Caitlin Holley, ENGIE’s program manager for capital projects, served as a project mentor and helped guide the team through project completion. 

“The team wanted to complete the solar panel install project before graduation.” Holley said. “This included finishing their design, looking at the budget, developing a list of materials and reaching out to solar contractors.”

Kate Bartter, executive director of the Sustainability Institute, helped choose the winner. 

“Judging the event was truly a high point of my career at Ohio State,” Bartter said. “The passion, commitment and creativity of the student teams further reinforced my belief that our students are at the forefront of understanding and solving our global sustainability challenges.”

Bartter says she was very impressed by the understanding the Student Solar Bus Stop team had regarding the importance of teaching their peers about the value of renewable energy by engaging them in an out-of-the-box way.  

We appreciate the partnering of TTM, the College of Engineering, the Sustainability Institute and ENGIE to bring this project to reality.

The bus stop will be fully operational this summer.