A Springfield high school has teamed up with the University of Massachusetts Amherst to land a state grant to install a solar panel and a wind turbine on its school campus.
The goal? To boost student interest in the energy field, as well as in STEM careers of science, technology, engineering and math.
UMass and Springfield High School of Science and Technology received the $160,000 grant last month from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for the solar panel and wind turbine project at the school’s State Street location. The project is managed by UMass Amherst, said Andrew Chabot, a program manager at the Clean Energy Center.
“This is the fourth year of the grant program, but it’s the first time UMass has been involved,” Chabot said. “We’re really excited to see what they do with it.”
An engineering and sustainability class for the 25 high school students involved in the program will be taught during the spring 2018 semester, and an eight-week paid internship in hands-on clean energy will start in the summer.
The students will design cellphone chargers for outdoor benches and a solar and wind-powered electronic message board, said Erin Baker, UMass Amherst industrial engineering professor.
The project was spearheaded by one of Baker’s doctorate students, Mo Kaikai, whom Baker said has a passion for combining engineering with sustainability projects.
“It’s going to be really important to take advantage of all our resources as we move into the future,” Baker said. “We want more kids to have the opportunity to excel in these areas.”
Springfield High School of Science and Technology is one of six high school programs to receive a clean energy education grant this year.
The program is meant to encourage high school students to enter a growing industry, said Craig Gelvarg, a spokesperson for the Clean Energy Center.
The Massachusetts clean energy sector grew by 6 percent in the last year and currently employs 100,000 people in the state, Gelvarg said.
“It’s really important to get students involved in these fields early in high school,” Gelvarg said. “We’re trying to prepare students for careers in an industry with a lot of opportunity.”
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