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Okanagan College students create solar powered technology

A pair of Okanagan College Business Administrations students have joined forces with Civil and Mechanical Engineering students to launch a new project that will help people charge devices on the go.

Project ReCharge is a new initiative that focuses on developing product’s that integrate solar technology into our day-to-day lives.

The idea was sparked by two fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration students, Nick Gallant and Cooper Simson as well as a second-year Civil Engineering Technology diploma student Josh Wiebe.

<who>Photo credit: Okanagan College</who>Left to right: Wiebe, Gallant and Simson

The team’s first product is a solar powered phone-charging table.

This product is set to be unveiled to the public on Feb. 22, at 11:30 a.m. in the courtyard of the Kelowna Campus.

“We want to break down the stigmas about solar energy and brighten the community’s imaginations as to the possibilities that solar energy can provide,” explains Gallant.

“Our hope is that by showing this technology is affordable, practical and durable that it will start to be utilized by schools, hospitals, restaurants and other public places and institutions to save energy while making people’s lives easier.”

During the initial design process, Gallant, Simson and Wiebe reached out to the College’s Mechanical Engineering program for input.

It was there that students James Van Maren, Kyle Smid and Shane Valcourt applied their knowledge to test principles and technology behind the group’s prototype.

<who>Photo credit: Okanagan College</who> Mechanical Engineering program

The trio will be competing for funding against colleges and universities from across B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan in the Scotiabank EcoLiving Green Challenge.

This challenge invites students to put forward creative and socially-focused business ideas that advance sustainability in Canada.

<who>Photo credit: Okanagan College</who>

Project ReCharge has been announced by Enactus Canada as one of 13 finalists that will compete in Calgary for a $20,000 grant.

“We couldn’t be more excited to take this project, scale it up and turn it into a social enterprise that will bring real benefit to people in the community,” notes Gallant. “We see this as a chance to model for others a business that blends sustainability and innovation, all with a focus on being a good corporate citizen.”

<who>Photo credit: Enactus Canada</who>

The experience that has come along with Project ReCharge has inspired Gallant, Simson and Wiebe to start Central City Solar which is a solar installation and distribution business.

“This project is the embodiment of an OC education, where we bring the real world into the classroom and our students – in this case, Engineering and Business students – apply their lessons learned, and take them back into the real world,” says Okanagan College School of Business Professor Mark Ziebarth.

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