It’s an amazing moment when a topic learned in the classroom comes to life.
It’s an amazing moment when a topic learned in the classroom comes to life. For senior Darya Guettler, that moment came on a sweltering day while installing solar panels in low-income communities in Los Angeles, alongside workers who had been previously incarcerated.
Guettler was volunteering with an MIT Energy Initiative program called Solar Spring Break, which had partnered with Homeboy Industries, an organization that supports formerly incarcerated individuals through career opportunities in green energy. Drilling the panels into the roofs while sweat dripped down her neck, Guettler finally got a chance to see the utility of solar panels in action. When the volunteers switched on the lights, the members of the community got together and celebrated.
“I’ve never done that before, and it was a very unique experience,” Guettler says, recalling the internship. “As students, we’re usually designing the solar panels. Actually installing them and then turning the power on — it’s like all these families now have power for free and can finally run their air conditioning during the day. It made it all feel real.”
Guettler’s fascination with renewable energy began back in high school geography class. Listening to lectures on fuel scarcity, she wondered why renewable energy sources weren’t more widely implemented. Her curiosity encouraged her to research solar panel efficiency and galvanic cell temperature concentrations.
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Image via Adam Glanzman.