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Solar-Powered Bus Stop Offers Real-Time CATA Map, Charging Stations

The 2015 class gift, a solar panel array, was installed onto a bus stop near Beaver Stadium and dedicated by Penn State President Eric Barron on April 2. The bus stop is now able to show real-time CATA bus locations and serve as a charging station for electronics. Students will also be able to learn about the history of solar energy at the stop as they are waiting for their buses to arrive.

“To install the array at a bus stop was creative, cost-effective, and scalable, with the potential to be replicated across campus and throughout State College,” Barron said in a release. “In choosing the Solar Panel Array as its gift to the University, the Class of 2015 has shown its belief in Penn State’s position as a leader on some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

When the gift was first announced, the 2015 Senior Class Gift committee decided to turn the potential application design for the solar panel array into a competition. The only requirement for the design teams was that there needed to be at least one current student involved. Geoff Hallett, the advisor to the 2015 class gift, explained that the winning team’s design, a solar bus stop, was submitted to the Board of Trustees and university leadership for approval. Eventually, a design firm was hired in order to implement the winning model.

“The displays and charging station are ‘off the grid,’ meaning that they do not require any input from the larger university electrical grid in order to provide power,” Hallett said. “The 2015 Class Gift committee hopes that the solar bus stop will continue to raise awareness of how we can incorporate solar power into our existing environment and teach the community at large the history and potential for the future of solar energy.”

Ted Hozza, a 2015 Penn State graduate and former Onward State editor, said he thinks it’s important that the class gift focuses on the use of renewable energy.

“I think that the integration of the solar array into a bus shelter shows a focus on sustainability as it uses renewable energy to protect those who choose to use public transportation while also using a cost-effective way to give back energy to the grid,” Hozza said. “Not only is the shelter sustainable and more aesthetically pleasing than the last iteration of shelters, it can also be a model to replace other locations across campus as well as in downtown State College.”

This bus stop will allow Penn State to investigate the feasibility of adding solar panels to more bus stops on local CATA bus routes.

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