Educating on Solar Power, Reusing and Art (III)

Intro: Shams Generation is a pioneering CSR initiative established by Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) in collaboration with Qatar Museums as a learning program that combines art, science, reusing and solar energy. On its second edition, Shams Generation reached 20 schools and 3,000 students and an additional 2,000 students and families through major public events across Qatar. QSTec supplies solar learning kits to educational institutions based on 3 levels of learning for students aged 6 through to university level. Qatar Solar Technologies was awarded the Best CSR Integrated Business Award for its Shams Generation solar education initiative at the Ta’atheer Awards in Dubai in May 2016. See website:

The contents of the Level 3 kit that QSTec provided to University students at Texas A&M Qatar (TAMUQ) was based on actual tools used by professional solar artists. Inside the box there are the necessary components to create an interactive solar powered sculpture. Within the numerous projects showcased, “Think Solar” (created by Electrical Engineering students Seifeldin Hashem, Munazza Sayed and Eric Niyigaba) was amongst the best. Seifeldin introduces the project: The "Think Solar" project was an interactive piece where the user selects the colors that shine through two etched acrylic panels saying "Think" and "Solar". A line of solar panels is placed below the acrylic panels on the wooden, very visible and yet well integrated. Again we challenge students with a multidisciplinary project. They need to pay attention to technical and design aspects simultaneously, and this is something that requires creativity, anticipation, testing, and a remarkable innovative spirit. In this sense, Seifeldin said: The challenge we've faced the most was the architectural design for the base and manufacturing it out of laser cut wood and acrylic panels and finally assembling it all. The electronics and software development were rather simple for the average electrical engineering student, but integrating them into a physical construction of some sort was our biggest challenge. Making the project look pretty was harder than making the project. The main objective of Shams Generation Initiative is to raise the interest of the student community about solar power. However, we don’t want a typical approach where the audience is just the receptor of certain information filtered with a strong corporate message. We want students to touch, to experiment, to make mistakes and to learn how to overcome them. In this sense, Seifeldin concluded: All in all the experience building this project was amazing, I've definitely learned a lot while working on it. The integration of solar panels in any piece is definitely a design constraint, physically and electronically, but once you're over that hurdle you've got a project that runs with no wall plugs or electricity bills. Shams University Participants with Shams Team Shams Generation is a project that grows organically. The third edition of the program, to start being implemented in January 2017, will include Design students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU Qatar) who will join interdisciplinary groups together with Engineers by TAMUQ. With this way, the technical and design aspect of the project will have the same importance in terms of representation in each group. _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(*) Level 3 The end goal of the level 3 solar kit is to bring together a group of students from different backgrounds (engineering, design, computing sciences…) to develop a multidisciplinary project. Each group will be given a Solar Kit that contains multiple solar PV panels, a battery, a charge controller, micro-controllers with multiple sensors, LED lights and gear motors. The students have to combine all the components to create an interactive design project powered by solar PV energy. This program is recommended for University.