Students showcase innovation in sustainable energy

On December 7 and 9, first-year Durham College Energy Audit Techniques and Renewable Energy Technician program students hosted an energy and recyclable fair at the Whitby campus. The fair, a requirement for a final communications assignment, displayed the works of 50 students and highlighted new approaches to traditional sustainable energy methods.

Encouraged to think outside-of- the-box, students were asked to research existing companies and products and develop innovative methods to use sustainable or renewable energy then write and present their findings.

“In past years students presented in front of the class however I believe the fair allows students to get more out of the project,” said Christine Wagner, part-time faculty and Energy Communications 1 professor. “In addition to developing good writing skills, students learned how to present their ideas effectively in person which will help them in the future when presenting to clients and in public venues such as trade shows.” 

All projects featured unique innovation and creativity. Some of the highlights included a tidal wave which used a current to generate electricity; recycled rubber tires used to create additional rubber products; home building materials created out of recycling containers; ideas and ways to recycle plastic to keep it out of landfills; and the compression and twisting of crystals to create piezoelectricity, an electromechanical interaction to create energy, which can be found in some electronics.

Wagner stressed the importance of students expanding on current ideas quoting Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 1,000 ways that won’t work.” Using this model of thinking to motivate students, Wagner also emphasizes the endless possibilities available in sustainable energy.

Offered by the School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeships & Renewable Technology, the Energy Audit Techniques and Renewable Energy Technician programs are one-year certificates at the Whitby campus. Introduced three years ago, the in-demand programs continue to maintain interest, accepting 50-60 applicants each year.