December 8, 2022
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Plans for single charging station on FHSU campus move forward

By on October 6, 2022 0


By FHSU University Communications

HAYS, Kan. – When Eric Deneault, associate professor of applied technology, and former assistant professor of computer science Dmitry Gimon five years ago began thinking about a collaborative project for FHSU, they were looking for a way to create cross-disciplinary synergies as well as a fun gathering place on campus.

“We wanted the project to be something that would motivate and encourage students to get involved in undergraduate research,” Deneault said. “Further, to showcase the knowledge and content skills of FHSU students through the application and illustration of a physical model on campus for the community to enjoy and assist in the recruitment of students.”

After much discussion with applied technology and computer science students at FHSU, the duo decided to create a unique charging station design. Computer science students developed schematics for the project, and applied technology students carried out the design and construction work.

Deneault described the project as a recreational charging station used for outdoor entertainment while charging portable electronic devices. It features a double sided steel porch swing. The one-of-a-kind swing can accommodate four people who can sit back to back. The energy created by the swinging motion is transferred through a shaft to a pinion which is then powered by a ¾ HP DC motor, creating energy which is distributed to the battery bank. So when individuals sway, they create energy.

Solar panel technology is mounted on the roof of the station, with batteries charging to full capacity within 8 hours. The goal, Deneault said, is to carry that energy throughout the night. Dusk to dawn lights will turn on in the evening to illuminate the entire area for any nighttime activities that may be taking place. Solar energy technology will likely create 18-24 hours of usable stored energy once the inverter converts DC power to AC power.

Each semester for the past five years, Deneault has worked with an undergraduate research class to refine the charging station, research, write proposals, present to students, and seek publication through manuscript writing. Additionally, he and the students worked with a structural engineer to test the station’s live loads, dead loads, and wind loads, as well as a certified welding fabricator to ensure safe operation so that the structure can be placed on the FHSU campus.

“It’s a good balance between research and application,” Deneault said. “I actually physically build that. We now have a unique design that has been stamped and approved by a licensed engineer, which is pretty cool for our students to have the opportunity to go through the design/build process to see how it works in the real world.

In terms of the project schedule, concrete is expected to be poured this fall at a location south of the Applied Technologies building. In the spring, Deneault hopes to assemble and adjust the charging station so that campus visitors can take advantage of the product.