On Oct. 23, dignitaries, faculty, staff, students and community members gathered at the Environmental Technology Center (ETC) for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony. Speaking that afternoon were Vice President Jacalyn Askin, President Linda Lujan, Chancellor Rufus Glasper, Salt River Project (SRP) manager for solar initiatives David Felix, and faculty member and ETC Coordinator Darien Ripple.
Salt River Project (SRP) donated construction of the ramada and installation of solar panels for the ramada’s rooftop, generating 13-kilowatts of energy. SRP also donated a data-acquisition system. Students learn first hand about how solar energy works and how to measure the productivity of the panels.
In addition to sustainability and engineering students working on energy projects, faculty across disciples have incorporated sustainability into course curriculum, allowing students to interact with the environment to develop an understanding of sustainability in multiple contexts.
The ETC also coordinates with three local schools and various Girl Scout Daisy Troops to introduce younger students to various environmental issues such as the technology used to calculate alternative-energy production, native desert plants and vertical gardens for growing food in limited spaces.
The outdoor space includes a shaded outdoor classroom space with solar panels donated by SRP and a community garden. Composting and adobe brick assembly are also part of the two-acre outdoor space. Student clubs will use the space as well as for classroom and honors projects.
The project was funded by SRP's Earthwise Energy program, which is funded by customer donations that go towards solar installations.
The East Valley Tribune was on hand with video and print coverage as well as the Town of Gilbert television. msnbc.com released an article as well.