Appalachian departments collaborate to build photovoltaic trailer

Cameron Van Dyke, assistant professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Applied Design, partnered with Brent Summerville, practitioner-in-residence in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment program, to design and build a solar powered unit for his home. 

The two, along with Summerville’s students, collaborated on the project during the fall 2018 semester. The team decided on a mobile, trailer-mounted solar-electric system that would be built on campus and transported to Van Dyke’s home. The mobile nature provides flexibility and allows Van Dyke to utilize the trailer at other locations.

Starting with a detailed load assessment, which involved a thorough look at the power and energy needs of the family’s 220-square foot home, the students were able to design a stand-alone photovoltaic, or solar-powered, system. Van Dyke was also heavily involved in the design aspect — he fabricated a custom steel-frame structure to hold the solar array in place on the trailer. Currently, the system is powering LED lights, a refrigerator, fan, mixer and small electric water heater at Van Dyke’s home.

According to Summerville, the project provided his students with an opportunity to build a complete system for a real-world use.

“These collaborative projects are an inspiration for our students as they embark on their own journey into the world of implementing sustainable and appropriate technological solutions,” he shared.

By Brent Summerville and Cameron Van Dyke

About the Department of Applied Design 

One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department Applied Design at Appalachian State University fosters excellence in design education, design research and professional placement. The department balances theoretical and pragmatic approaches while exploring an awareness of impact through design decisions on the global community. Faculty focus on a holistic approach to creative problem-solving by integrating sustainability and ethical responsibility in teaching and practice. The department offers bachelor’s degrees in apparel design and merchandising, industrial design and interior design. 

About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment

One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology.  Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Students mount solar array
Published: Jan 24, 2019 4:04pm