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Experiential Learning through Undergraduate Research on a Roadway Energy Harvesting Design (WIP)

Kerzmann, Tony and Martin, Sabrina (2021) Experiential Learning through Undergraduate Research on a Roadway Energy Harvesting Design (WIP). In: 2021 ASEE North Central Section Conference, 19 March 2021 - 20 March 2021, University of Toledo, Ohio.

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Innovating new energy harvesting techniques that do not rely on fossil fuels is a critical step towards expanding sustainable infrastructure and fighting the effects of climate change. The Yale Program for Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) conducted a survey with Climate Nexus and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication that found 78% of voters support upgrading the electrical grid and expanding renewable energy sources using federal funds. This public support for renewable energy is essential for revolutionizing the way the country sources its electricity. The push towards clean energy sources is a huge steppingstone in the ongoing battle against climate change. As scientists and engineers consider possible solutions, it is imperative that they consider what infrastructure already exists and how it can be re-engineered and updated to provide electricity. One possibility to consider is updating our roadways to work for us to generate electricity. As of 2017 the Federal Highway Administration reports that there are 4,184,471 miles of public road in the United States alone. These roadways provide a diverse environment for energy harvesting within vast amount of infrastructure that already exists. The near constant exposure to solar radiation, wind, run-off from precipitation, and repetitive mechanical loading creates an opportunity to implement a system that takes advantage of one or more of these resources. Two separate comprehensive reviews of roadway-based energy have concluded that there is a wide-open space for further research of possible devices. The research done by an undergraduate student focuses on the feasibility of implementing a roadway-based energy harvesting device. The project also looks at the possible long-term impact of the device on the environment while keeping in mind its effects on the surrounding roadway. There is an emphasis on the enthusiasm and support of this concept from the public. In an effort to design a device that would be able to garner public support as well as improve the outlook of the climate crisis, multiple questionnaires were used to gather opinions to help shape the design of the energy harvesting device. Hands-on research opportunities help relate the important concepts learned within lectures to real-world applications. While the classroom setting is effective at introducing the basics, I find it hard to grasp the material being taught until I can actively apply it to a project or problem outside of the lecture hall. Some courses lack a hands-on component that facilitates making important connections between class material and the real-life scenarios where these concepts would be applied. A research project is one opportunity that can make up for what these classes may be missing. This project was especially consequential during the fall semester of 2020, when the entirety of my schedule was remote due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With this project I was able to supplement my learning outside of class despite a lack of on-campus opportunities.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kerzmann, TonyTKerzmann@pitt.eduTLK530000-0002-9445-3814
Martin, Sabrina
Date: 19 March 2021
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title:
Publisher: ASEE
Place of Publication:
Event Title: 2021 ASEE North Central Section Conference
Event Dates: 19 March 2021 - 20 March 2021
Event Type: Conference
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Refereed: Yes
Official URL:
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2021 11:33
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 04:55


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