Solar Tracker Earns IEEE People’s Choice Award

January 23, 2020 by Paul Shepard

Two recent local DeVry University graduates, David Palmer and Janio Moreno, were honored with the People’s Choice Award at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC). Palmer and Moreno received the award for their Solar Energy Tracking System, which is designed to collect, store and use clean renewable energy from the sun.

The Solar Energy Tracking System operates by orienting a group of solar cells or solar panels into an optimal location to collect energy from the sun, then stored in lithium ion batteries to be used at a later time. The system can be used in residential, commercial and personal applications to power home appliances, cars, irrigation systems, etc., or to generate energy for lighting, cooking and heat when living or traveling off the grid.

The system uses two solar panels, six light dependent resisters (LDRs), two unipolar stepper motors, two L298 driver boards, and an ATmega328P microprocessor. The system uses the light dependent resistors to interpret the amount of light in a specific area on the system’s platform. This analog signal is then converted to a digital signal, represented by a value, ranging from 0 to 100, and is used to direct the driver boards, moving the panel to the optimum orientation.

The concept was created by Palmer and Moreno, along with other fellow students, in a product development class at DeVry’s Long Beach campus, where they built the energy system as their senior project, a final course required for graduation. With the encouragement of their professors, Palmer, who lives in Banning, and Moreno, who resides in Moreno Valley, presented their Solar Energy Tracking System and the results it produced at the GHTC.

Engineering students from around the world presented their projects that were designed to address critical humanitarian issues of vulnerable populations or for those with limited resources.

“Our senior class projects are designed to introduce students to real-world experiences, with hands-on opportunities to help solve a need or business problem, and be applied or useful in the world,” said Mostafa Mortezaie, Ph.D., professor and faculty chair, College of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry University.

“With a working concept that can make collecting and storing clean renewable energy more efficient, we really wanted to see David and Janio compete at the GHTC. We are really proud of the work they produced,” concluded Dr. Mortezaie.