Student development of a five kW solar furnace for solar thermal chemistry research

Gregory Scott Duncan, Shahin S. Nudehi, Robert D. Palumbo, Daniel Blood, Luke Jerod Venstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Numerous publications have described positive student outcomes when undergraduate engineering students participate in meaningful, real-world projects. Moreover, even students not directly involved in the real-world projects benefit through formal classroom interactions and informal social interactions with those students that are participating in the projects. Recently, students at Valparaiso University completed a massive, interdisciplinary project to design, manufacture, assemble, and test a half-million dollar, five kW solar furnace. Because of the scope of the project, 50 students spanning seven years of graduating classes and two engineering departments were involved. The avenues of student participation included summer internships, independent project work, and Capstone Senior Design projects. By working on the solar furnace project, students developed a myriad of valuable skills in such areas as project management, technical writing, communication, design, manufacturing, mechatronics, finite element analysis, circuit analysis, programming, and instrumentation. Additionally, 40 percent of the students who participated in the project chose to continue their engineering studies in graduate schools around the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for Society
Issue number122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for...
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Event2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Seattle, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2015Jun 17 2015

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