Thanks to the engineering department, some students in a residential hall may have the chance of receiving a solar powered air conditioning unit.

Four students along with Engineering Professors Jeff Giesey and Greg Harrell have been working on the project for about five months. The project idea came from a category 5 tropical storm, Hurricane Irma, that hit Florida this summer. The hurricane hit a nursing home and destroyed the air conditioning systems. Eight people died due to overheating.

“We as an engineering department serve to help others with our skills, and that’s exactly what we want with this project,” Harrell said.

This solar panel used for the AC system. Photo by Kayla Baker.

The main goal of the project is to potentially bring air conditioning to some rooms in Webb Hall. The residential hall’s electrical circuits are not designed for a unit in each room, so those students with health complications, such as allergies and asthma, will be first priority.

“It would be really neat to have an air conditioning unit in Webb, especially during the season when allergies are at a peak,” sophomore resident Michael Anakwe said.

Putting in a solar powered cooling system does present a few challenges. With the electrical circuits being out of date, it will be difficult to install a unit, according to Giesey. He also talked about how the amount of light needed to power the system could possibly present a difficult challenge.

“The system is currently up and running but still needs a few tweaks and some details worked out in order to be ready and installed into Webb Hall,” Giesey said. “The main focus is getting a handle on the green energy initiative and making this an affordable project.”

Giesey did not give the exact cost for the production of the system and cost of the parts ordered but said the cost is under $1000 and within the department’s budget.

“One-seventh of the world is currently facing the problem of how to provide cooling,” Harrell said. “If we can help to solve that problem at Milligan, that’s a major step in the right direction.”

There is no timeline as to when this project will be complete and ready to be installed. Both Giesey and Harrell said they hope to give the project a try in the near future.

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