CUT Develops Solar-powered Charging Stations for Students


The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) recently unveiled a prototype, which will allow students to charge their electronic devices on campus, via a solar-powered USB port.
“We have seen a marked increase in the daily use of electronic equipment by students,” says Prof. Herman Vermaak, acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology. “With this increase, the idea came to develop a device that harnesses energy from a renewable source and gives students an easy, accessible and free re-charging facility.”
Now that the prototype has been developed, the next step is to place a number of these charging stations all over campus to help ensure that students can recharge whenever they need to and don’t run out of battery power at a crucial time.
The Solar-Flower was designed and developed by CUT engineering team, while the steel construction of the device was done at the mechanical workshop at the university’s Bloemfontein campus.
According to Prof. Vermaak, the university’s state-of-the-art facilities, coupled with excellent teamwork among faculty members who are experts in their respective fields, allow CUT to manage projects such as this one – from the inception stage all the way through to the delivery of a product prototype.
“It is important that as technology educators we remain at the forefront of technology, particularly in the field of renewable energy,” says Vermaak. “This project is a perfect example of doing just that. Besides providing a practical solution to a growing problem on campus, it also gives us an opportunity to introduce all students and staff members to the use of sustainable energy.”
The Solar-Flower project represents one of the many ways CUT is committed the drive towards a greener future.
Renewable Energy Courses
The Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering are introducing two new courses in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The first is a higher Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies and the second a Diploma in Sustainable Energy.
These courses were designed to help develop more Renewable Energy Technicians and Energy Advisor/Auditors in South Africa. Upon entering the job market, the technicians will have the technical knowledge and skills to conceptualise, install and maintain renewable innovations in various urban and rural environments of South Africa, while the advisors and auditors – among other responsibilities – will be equipped to advise consumers on available renewable energy devices.