Maximizing Solar Power and Career Opportunities
It is well known that solar panels have to face the sun to deliver electrical power. Surprisingly, it is not so well known that the amount of power provided by a solar panel also depends on the value of the electrical current consumed by the load connected to the panel. In fact, there exists an optimal value of the electrical current that results in a PPP (Peak Power Point), the condition where maximum power is produced by the solar panel. Ideally, a solar panel should always be operating at or in the vicinity of the PPP.
Confronted with this scenario, engineers have generated the following challenge: to design an automatic control system to ensure that a solar panel always works at or very close to the PPP. Electrical Engineering students Benjamin Briggs and Chris Rigoli took up the challenge as their Senior Design Project, under supervision of Dr. Mohammad Zunoubi and Dr. Julio González. The PPP control system designed and implemented by Ben and Chris performed to perfection, exceeding the professors’ expectations.
Now that they have graduated from SUNY New Paltz, the question is: What happens to students such as Chris and Ben whose senior design projects exhibit a high degree of accomplishment? The answer is extremely gratifying to the Engineering Department: Chris obtained a wonderful engineering job in Manhattan, at the prestigious consulting firm JB&B (Jaros Baum & Bolles), while Ben was granted a research scholarship to pursue a PhD degree at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany.