MECC Receives VCCS Excellence in Education Award for Development of Mobile Solar Energy Unit


New Horizons EIE AwardBig Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce the college has received the Virginia Community College System 2016 Excellence in Education Award for Innovative Use of Technology in the Face-to-Face and Online Classroom for the development of Southwest Virginia’s first mobile solar-powered energy system.

MECC’s SPARC-E (Solar-Powered Alternative Renewable Clean Energy) was designed and created by students and staff in the college’s industrial electronics, solar energy, and welding programs. The unit includes 12 solar modules that are capable of producing approximately 5,000 watts of power for use as a direct power-source or as a back-up generator for any power grid.  

SPARC-E can serve as an energy provider to community events and potential emergency response assistance. The unit powered two major events at MECC in 2015 – the Home Craft Days Festival and the Haunted Forest attraction.

The VCCS Excellence in Education (EIE) Award: Innovative Use of Technology in the Face-to-Face and Online Classroom provides individuals or teams an opportunity to showcase their use of a technology-based idea, tool, or process created for direct use in the classroom or online. MECC’s SPARC-E project was selected as one of four finalists, competing with three other Virginia community colleges in the innovative use of technology category. MECC representatives were presented with the award during the annual VCCS New Horizons Conference in Roanoke, April 12.

_COX1797“We are thrilled that our students and staff were recognized for their efforts,” said MECC President Scott Hamilton. “This innovative project not only provided a hands-on learning opportunity for students in industrial technology programs, it will also be used as a recruitment and educational tool for our electromechanical, energy, and advanced manufacturing programs.”

For more information on MECC’s SPARC-E unit, or industrial technology programs at Mountain Empire Community College, contact the MECC’s Office of Community Relations at 276.523.7480.