Youngstown State University’s National Electrical Contract Association student group is preparing its presentation for the organization’s national competition.
The NECA is a nation-wide organization that stands as the voice for the electrical contracting industry.
For the competition, students must take an existing facility on campus and figure out ways to make it more energy efficient, as well as showcase use of the new green technology available today.
Part of the competition includes compiling and compacting the information of their proposal into a single poster. Last year, YSU’s poster won first place in the national competition. The proposal is due on May 5 this year, with the poster due in the next few weeks.
While the project is a hypothetical exercise, all the intended changes are treated as real, including cost estimates and other practical factors of the solutions.
Ethan Parks, an electrical engineering major and president of YSU NECA, said the group will focus on the Kilcawley Center.
“This year we are utilizing the Kilcawley Center and we’re going be pushing for occupancy sensors, solar panels, variable speed drives, variable frequency drives; different ways to make the building more efficient, save the campus money, and then in the long run show that green energy is the way to go,” he said.
Parks said the competition is a valuable learning experience for the participants.
“We are practicing what we are learning in school and we are applying it to real life. It’s a great project for beginners to get into. That way they get some hands on experience and realize what they are learning really does mean something,” he said.
Last year’s project focused on the M-1 parking deck. Proposed changes included electrical car charging stations, LED light fixtures and solar panels.
YSU is considering putting some of these changes into place in reality. YSU’s NECA group is hopeful that its project this year will also be taken under serious consideration.
John Fromel, an electrical and computer engineering major and new member of the organization, said their project could serve as a long lasting solution for some of YSU’s energy concerns.
“We’re looking forward to [the competition]. We feel that our project could not only benefit YSU in terms of saving money but also in terms of a long lasting solution,” Fromel said.
Sean Lynch, the group’s vice president of communication and participant in the competition for several years, spoke on how the group arrived at the alternative energy solutions they use today.
“The tough thing about Youngstown is that it’s not really windy all the time, so alternative energy is kind of difficult, but we kind of did away with the wind turbines and are focusing on solar panels and daylight harvesting,” Lynch said.
Daylight harvesting refers to naturally lighting rooms with sunlight rather than using man-made lighting. For instance, certain lights in a room respond to the amount of sunlight coming into the room by switching on and off accordingly.
Parks said membership in NECA will benefit students in terms of their employment later on, both in the near and distant future.
“With students getting into NECA, that opens doors to many different areas that students can go through. This is just a stepping stones,” he said. “By being in NECA that would give you the advantage over somebody else who had the same exact degree.”
Professor Theodore Bosela, faculty adviser for the YSU NECA group, agreed, saying the group it provides great opportunities for students.
“Students having the opportunity to interact and network with the electrical contract industry is fantastic. The contractors provide a lot of direct financial support through internships, part-time employment, and full-time employment, but it also gives the students a sense of the real issues contractors face,” Bosela said.