“Our swag is renewable” is the motto of Solar Society Club, the first student organization to reach the TEC-SMART campus in Malta.
“We’d like to give a warm welcome to the club once it hits the main campus,” said Michael Petruccelli, from Catskill, one of the 11 students in Solar Society that hope to spread the the Hudson Valley main campus in the upcoming 2015-16 academic year. The club is primarily comprised of students in the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School program.
“Most of my students will be attending Hudson Valley next year so talking about sustainability, by planting the club in the early high school program, I expect much of the members to stay strong supporters of the club and let it grow on the main campus,” said Joanne Coons, photovoltaics professor and co-advisor to solar society.
She mentioned the club benefits both the Troy campus and the TEC-SMART campus in improving student involvement. “If we don’t do some outreach, we won’t improve the communication with the main campus so we’re missing out by not incorporating what we’re doing here [at TEC-SMART] with the Troy location,” Coons said.
Solar Society Club was approved for $200 by the Student Senate on Nov. 2 of last year. Grace Harrison, Student Senate President said in an email, “The Solar [Society] Club has the potential to make a huge impact on campus. Once established, I can envision them cooperating on projects and exchanging ideas with our engineering students. I look forward to hearing more about this club.”
Harrison mentioned that while touring other college campuses, she noticed the rise of solar energy being incorporated into infrastructure. “Hudson Valley is a leader among community colleges and we should welcome new, alternative, and green energies to fuel our campus,” she said.
On the main campus, through Solar Society, the club plans to update the energy page on Hudson Valley’s website and make Hudson Valley become a certified green campus. Penny Hill, Associate Dean of TEC-SMART and advisor to the Solar Society Club believes it is possible to accomplish this within the next decade. “I think that goal is reasonable within the next ten years clearly and maybe even sooner than that. It is an achievable goal and it is a goal that is worthwhile. Many campuses have done this and found that when they get renewable energy from their campus, they bring that home and to their community,” she said.
“I’ve learned a lot more about solar [energy] than I ever knew before. It made me realize that it’s a totally feasible thing that you can do and use for the future,” said Michaela Regner, secretary of Solar Society Club from South Glens Falls.
“Solar energy is a great investment for the and always smart to have around,” said Zachary Young of East Greenbush. Along with promoting solar power, the organization has proposed providing assistance with campus sustainable and native plantings and composting along with designing an outdoor classroom near TEC-SMART.
In an October, Hill mentioned supporting the club through the Environmental Sustainability Committee. She hopes the students of TEC-SMART would help volunteer the Environmental Sustainability Committee’s Earth Day Celebration and the Sustainability Fair.
Much of the student’s work for the club lies within the classroom. For Michaela Regner, one her projects involves designing a solar gadget.”Right now i’m designing a solar bird bath. I never thought I’d be able to power a system on this level and I think that’s really cool,” she said.
Some students, such as Petruccelli, have taken what they’ve learned in the photovoltaics program and incorporated it at home. “I turn off the lights more often. I don’t have solar panels just yet but my family is thinking about installing them,” he said.
Twenty-one schools districts are involved with Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School at TEC-SMART with about 110 students participating in the program. “We don’t have this opportunity back at our high schools so I think this program really helps students learn what they want to do with solar energy as a career,” said Anthony Meyre, Vice President of Solar Society Club from Ballston Spa. “Back in my high school, I would always be bored in class and the teachers would speak down to us. Here, [the professors] speak to us like we’re adults and give us a lot of free space. I get a lot more work done here than I would if I was at my regular high school.”
“It’s a great opportunity for students like me, if they like this career, they can do something with it and keep going forward,” said Taylor Hines of Mechanicville.