MCCTC Instructors Build Mobile Solar Workstation

CANFIELD, Ohio – Instructors at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center have a new solar generator system at their disposal, and building it was a team effort.

The MCCTC mobile solar generator/workstation, which was designed and built by instructors at the center, was designed to not only portray the necessary components of a working solar generator, but also double as an adaptable mobile workstation. It’s equipped with a full tool set for diverse scenarios. It also has a wireless, all-in-one integrated weather sensor array that measures wind speed/direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall, UV and solar radiation, all displayed on a mounted display monitor.

The workstation shows students how everything connects in a comprehensive, complete rugged mobile layout. It can be taken to any classroom in the building, used in the outdoor classroom, on the school farm and at events.  

MCCTC’s mobile solar generator/workstation.

The original design concept was initiated after Superintendent John Zehentbauer encouraged teachers to consider future needs in the industry when developing content to teach their students.

English teacher Anthony Cycyk designed and built the custom butcher block table top and back board, providing support for all of the electrical components.

Joe Sander, Custom Auto Paint & Design instructor, designed and fabricated the frame and hinge system the panels are mounted to.

Welding instructor Denny Naples helped modify the cart frame to add height. Science instructor Seth Basista designed a wiring diagram and layout for every component and device.

There are various science, math and engineering concepts that can be incorporated in the functions and applications of the workstation:

  • The properties of wiring solar panels in series versus parallel;
  • How to gauge wire appropriately for a 12-volt system;
  • How to fuse appliances, solar panels and chargers appropriately;
  • DC versus AC energy systems;
  • Dynamics in battery chemistry (pros and cons to various types);
  • How direct versus indirect sunlight affects solar power output;
  • How to calculate power needs for off-grid energy setups;
  • How to spec components for a solar generator based on power needs;
  • Measuring weather variables/units.

“We are in the process of creating lesson plans, guides and diagrams to go along with this build to not only prepare our students, but help others that would like to bring it into their classrooms and expand on its potential capabilities,” Basista said.

Pictured at top: Seth Basista, science instructor, and Joe Sander, Custom Auto Paint & Design instructor.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.