UPR-Mayagüez students win prestigious energy competitions

By John McPhaul

Two teams of students from the Mayagüez Campus (RUM by its Spanish acronym) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) won first place in their pioneering representation in two prestigious energy competitions internationally and in the United States.

“On behalf of the entire university community, we congratulate and highlight the achievements of the two college teams, who with discipline and passion make history in such competitive and beneficial areas at a global and local level,” UPR President Jorge Haddock said in a written statement. “I urge you to continue developing your knowledge; you are a representation of the talent that we promote at the University of Puerto Rico,”

“It fills us with immense pride to validate, once again, that the talent, ingenuity, mastery of the subject and the discipline of our students lead them to shine in two forums of international caliber and at the United States level,” added RUM Chancellor Agustín Rullán Toro. “We highlight the effort of all the members and of Dr. Eduardo Ortiz Rivera, who demonstrated the excellent quality of teaching in the areas of renewable systems and energy on our Campus, where without a doubt, the professionals who will be in charge of that enormous responsibility are prepared to design technologies that guarantee sustainability to future generations.”

The students won the 2021 Humanitarian Technology Project Design Competition held by the Power and Energy Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and its Committee on Humanitarian Activities. The RUM team placed first in Latin America and the world in that competition, and also won first place in the 2021 U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Denver.

In the former competition, the RUM team prevailed over 65 teams from different countries around the world, with its UPRM Green Light Project, a photovoltaic panel system to provide solar energy and empower communities.

Meanwhile, in the U.S, Department of Energy Solar District Cup Denver, the RUM team shone among 72 prestigious American universities with a project to design a photovoltaic system with solar energy storage for the city of Denver, Colorado.

Under adviser Dr. Eduardo I. Ortiz Rivera, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at RUM and mentor of the Minds2CREATE research group, the students achieved the important feat in the context of a pandemic and with both events, whose final stages coincided on the last weekend of April, being held virtually.

“These are great achievements, not only for our Mayagüez Campus, but for all of Puerto Rico,” Ortiz Rivera said. “I feel privileged [to have been involved] in what these students have achieved as a result of collaborative effort and work. It is very significant to be champions of two of the most prestigious competitions in our areas, which are renewable energy and photovoltaic systems. They were extremely difficult challenges, but we managed to overcome and demonstrate the quality of work that we do in our school.”

In the Humanitarian Technology Project Design Competition, whose challenge was to create a proposal linked to the area of electrical energy with a humanitarian objective and service to their community, the RUM scholars’ winning UPRM Green Light Project consisted of the design of a gazebo for the campus’ central patio that generates its own energy using solar panels.

The group, which belongs to the student chapter of the IEEE Power and Energy Society, was made up of Javier A. Moscoso Cabrera, Tirso A. Peña Ruiz, Alexis Burgos Rivera, Marcos Carballo Martínez, Melody Cosme Morales, Christopher Flores Fermín, Jorge Santiago Fernández and Feli Solá Viera, all from the RUM; as well as Leonardo Guadalupe Correa and Adriana Torres Martínez, architecture students from the Río Piedras Campus of the UPR and the Polytechnic University, respectively, who contributed to improving the structural design of the project.

Projects in the 2021 U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Denver, meanwhile, were evaluated by members of the solar industry, academics, researchers, and staff of the U.S. Department of Energy, the main sponsor of the event.

The RUM team’s first-place proposal in that competition was designed for a population of about 40,000 people. Members of that team are: Cristián R. Meléndez González, Ángel Gabriel Ortiz Rodríguez, Alanis Colón, Melody Cosme, Jorianys Del Valle, Ángel Figueroa, Juan Fontánez, Guillermo López and María López.

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