FRANKFORT, Ky. — Local and state officials gathered in the Greenup County community of Russell to dedicate a solar-panel house built by students at the Russell Area Technology Center (ATC.)
The project stems from an ongoing series of alternative energy projects conducted by the ATC’s Electrical Technology Instructor Doug Keaton and his group of students known as the E-3 (Efficient Electrical Energy) Team.
The structure, made completely from recycled materials, supports solar panels which provide part of the school’s daily energy needs. The students have already completed construction of a wind turbine that also supplies energy to the school.
Keaton’s students have not only used their electrical skills to construct the projects but they have studied the science that goes into renewable energy and its social and environmental ramifications.
Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Helen W. Mountjoy spoke at the dedication and said the program is one to be emulated by others.
“What Mr. Keaton and his students are doing is amazing. They’ve taken basic instruction, added in cutting edge approaches to alternative energy, and come out with a program that is a model for others across the country,” she said.
Keaton said his students have taken the project to a new level rather than just being something they do at school.
“The students have moved beyond the point of this just being a part of their education. It has become personal to them. They are finding guidance and direction with it,” he said. “They have taken over this project and it has become part of their persona and you can’t find that in a book. It’s not just a technical skill, it’s a life skill.”
As the students moved through this venture, they have been involved in and created smaller projects including miniature wind mills and an energy conservation display that contains two residential electric meters used to measure energy use by incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. The students also started a recycling movement to collect used bulbs for proper disposal.
Other dignitaries on hand for the ceremony included Dr. Susan Compton, superintendent of Russell Independent School District, and state representatives Tanya Pullin and Rocky Adkins.
A new project is already in the works by the E-3 Team involving the creation of a biodiesel processor that will take used vegetable oil from the local school district’s lunchrooms and turn it into fuel for at least one of the district’s buses.
The Russell ATC is one of 55 centers in the Office of Career and Technical Education, an agency of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The cabinet coordinates learning programs from P-16, and manages and supports training and reemployment functions in the Department for Workforce Investment. For more information, visit http://www.educationcabinet.ky.gov/ or http://www.workforce.ky.gov.
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