Archive for the ‘school’ Category

Solar Panel on the Cheap

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I took a class on solar energy this quarter (EE237 - Solar Energy Conversion) that had a fairly nifty final project. They provided the cells (EverBright, purchased on eBay) and we were supposed to build a panel in groups that minimized the energy cost ($/Wh) by using the cells and any form of light concentration. We took the quick and dirty approach of cardboard and aluminum foil, but ended up making a pretty nice looking panel that performed decently. The cells are supposed to generate 1.75 Wp (peak power output) so 12 cells should have put out about 21W, while the panel put out about 30W. We had expected about 60W, but I think that cracks in the panels and reflector roughness were our downfall; also, we never got around to testing the cells without light concentration so who knows how good they actually were. I'll hear in a few days how it compared with the panels made by the other groups in the class. We'll probably lose to the group that used a huge lens capable of melting a penny (!), unless they managed to fry their panels with the light intensity. Either way, I wanted to share the pictures.



Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I had my PhD qualifying exam today. It consisted of a twenty minute presentation and about an hour and a half of oral questions / board work from a panel of four professors. It's insane how about six weeks of studying gets compressed into that little time. I passed and now get to do about the same thing with an hour long presentation in a few years. Whee!

Fellowship Advice

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I've been meaning to write about applying for graduate fellowships for awhile. And I was about to do it too. Then I realized that Philip Guo already wrote an amazing post about it that explains the ins and outs of the NSF, NDSEG and Hertz fellowships better than I ever could. I applied for the NSF and NDSEG while doing grad school applications and didn't get either. The next year I read Philip's post before applying for all three and got the NSF, barely snagged the NDSEG and didn't even get an interview with the Hertz people.

The only tidbit that I can add is that the NSF isn't messing around when it comes to societal impact, and if you don't address it then game over. Ideally you should be able to mention a few concrete things that you've done. Many schools have outreach programs over the summer and could use a hand, so volunteer and have something to real to write about instead of that one time you helped your little sister on a homework problem.