Oregon Tech has officially gone into business. Yes, that’s right, the student body has put down the books and picked up the hammer and sickle. Why study when work sets you free? Wait…I think I read that somewhere in Poland.
While the part about books being put down is a bit of a tall tale, students have been busy putting their knowledge to real world use. Many projects are currently underway or have recently finished at the end of winter quarter. The Oregon Tech REE commitment to hands-on practicality combined with mind-numbing theory has manifested into a series of interesting projects as of late.
Biofuels was one of the REE elective classes offered in winter. Students taking the class were required to produce a biofuel of their choice, and by quarter’s end, present the results to their classmates. Some groups chose ethanol distilled from vegetables or grains; others chose to produce bio-diesel from simple reactants like algae. The projects were all a success and the students learned a great deal about the fundamental types of biofuels and production processes.
Solar energy was another renewable power source that received much attention. As part of an optional single credit class, Matt Arneson and John Grieser worked together installing the first photovoltaic array on the OIT East campus roof. As of this writing, they have installed the pv rails completely and should have the pv panels installed by the end of spring quarter. Another solar energy side project involves one of OIT’s solar water heaters. At the end of winter quarter, Daniel Hoff welded a support frame to one of the larger water heaters to give the structure a supporting weight and better solar absorption angle. Both of these projects, and others to come down the road, will decrease the carbon footprint of OIT, decrease the energy bill, and showcase the practical and important knowledge offered in the OIT REE program.
Other projects were tackled in the Batteries class. Four groups developed a different emergency battery powered device for the class project. There was a Nickel Cadmium powered ultraviolet light water purifier. Another project used Lead acid batteries to power a series of LED and CFL lights. An emergency pack, powered by Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, was developed by another group. The pack included a mini water filter, LED light strings, and a portable device charger. The fourth group constructed a Lithium-ion powered portable power strip designed for multiple cell phone charging. All projects were a success and received full points. With proper funding, these prototypes could be further designed and scaled up to create real world rapid response emergency packs for disaster scenarios.
OIT LLC has officially gone into business. With the teachers providing the educational resources, the students have been busy putting their new found knowledge and skills to the task. Stay tuned for more to come.