LENS Engineering, Science, and Technology

Recharging on the Quad

Case Western Reserve students refitted a picnic table for recharging electronic devices outdoors.PHOTO: Michael F. McElroy

Student Jason Pickering, center, helped lead the development of the solar-powered picnic table to charge electronic devices. He's joined by fellow students, Tyler Powell and Emily Dickens.

Last year a group of students refitted a picnic table for the Case Quad to recharge electronic devices outdoors—and inspire others to create energy products. Solar panels, a battery pack and outlets allow several people to sit together, with their phones and laptops plugged in under the table.

“We wanted to build a physical structure to learn about energy generation and use from a practical standpoint, and leave behind a visible legacy,” said Jason Pickering, now a fifth-year student majoring in chemical engineering, who led the project with Elizabeth Stricker, a PhD candidate in chemical engineering.

The table was the inaugural project of the university’s ThinkEnergy Fellowship Program, an initiative spearheaded by the Great Lakes Energy Institute to boost energy literacy at the university and help interested students connect with faculty, companies and other leaders in the energy sector.

Pickering sees the table spurring more students to take an interest in energy—and believes some may want to enhance it with shading, energy-use gauges or solar trackers that follow the sun. “I hope somebody will look at it and want to further improve on the design and help make it a focal point of the Quad,” Pickering said.

—Kaitlin Murphy