Ivy Tech Community College-Lafayette’s Craig Porter Energy Center helps students learn about renewable and sustainable energy systems for home and business

Craig Porter Energy CenterA new energy technology learning center located on the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Lafayette will be a bridge for tomorrow’s energy technicians. The Craig Porter Energy Center houses real renewable energy systems, a multi-purpose laboratory, and a classroom. The center is named in memory of Craig Porter who was Chair of the Energy Technology Program at the college at the time of his death. The center was made possible by grants and donations.

The center is located in a former residential home located just south of the campus on Sagamore Parkway South. Solar, geothermal, wind, electrical vehicle, and home automation systems are in place or planned. Students will learn about renewable energies, smart grid integration and electrical vehicle charging stations at the unique learning center.

“The Porter Energy Center firmly establishes Ivy Tech’s unique presence as a leader in energy technology education for our local communities and the State of Indiana,” said John Roudebush, Chair of the Energy Technology Program.

The first indication that the center is not your normal family residence is the functioning commercial-grade 36 solar panel array capable of producing up to 10,000 watts of power. The system is divided into two systems, giving students the ability to work out of several electrical sub-panels with dedicated circuits for power production testing. The students will be able to collect data from a live energy monitoring system. In the future, they will be able to do so remotely through the internet.

A battery back-up system gives students the ability to experiment with both on and off-grid applications to gain better understanding of energy storage systems. Future plans include doubling the capacity of the battery system. “They will learn concepts of energy efficiency and power quality,” said Roudebush, “which is important for integration of smart grid technologies.”

The house is heated and cooled by a slinky loop Bosch geothermal unit located in the soil in front of the center. A second geothermal system under construction will use solar hydronics and solar photovoltaic thermal technologies.

Wind energy includes twelve vertical axis roof top wind generators integrated with four 250 watt solar panels, creating a 3000 watt hybrid system. In the future, two smaller horizontal axis wind generators – one on the roof and a second on a 40-foot tower – will provide an additional 1500-2000 watts of power.

Three electric vehicle charging stations will be tied into the renewable energy systems to demonstrate how personal vehicles can be powered by clean energy.

Home automation and smart grid integration help students learn how to build and maintain a smart home. Using PC software and smartphones, students can control and monitor lights, outlets, media centers and appliances. Students will us a variety of testing instruments to study wind speeds and direction, humidity, solar radiation and other weather events that determine how much energy is being collected at the center. The center will feature both live and non-live systems to give students the opportunity to safely practice real installations.

Future plans include both bio-diesel and natural gas generators integrated into all existing technologies. A 100-foot 10KW wind generator may also be installed depending on funding.

All of the technologies present in the center prepare the program to be certified by industry standards, such as the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEB). “These certifications will help the School of Technology become a well-rounded, multi-craft learning institution offering the best programs available for tomorrow’s technicians,” Roudebush said.

“The goal is to allow students to learn how to build, wire, size and assess systems and make them functional each and every semester,” said Roudebush. “They will learn how to create a green home.”

“A project of this scale would not be possible without the support of the faculty, staff and students at Ivy Tech,” said Susan Ely, Dean of the School of Technology. “Many volunteered their time and expertise beyond the scope of their traditional responsibilities. Also, many grants and area companies contributed to the systems in place at the center. Their generous support has helped create a teaching center with the latest technologies.”

Supporters and contributors to the center include:  Dianna Roudebush, Lowes Home Improvement, Duke Energy, Ronald Evans, Accutek Solar, Nusun Solar, JB Miller, Huston Electric, F&S Williams, Frontier Communications, Green Alternatives Inc., Home Energy LLC, Windstream Technologies, the National Science Foundation, Macomb Community College’s  Center for Advanced Automotive Technology, the US Department of Energy’s  Crossroads Smart Grid Training Program and Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium Grants, and the US Department of Labor’s TAACCCT National STEM Consortium Grant.

Craig Porter
Craig Porter was Chair of the Energy Technology Program. He began his career at Ivy Tech as an adjunct in 2010. Porter was also a partner in ECI Wind and Solar a renewable energy design and installation firm.

About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually.  Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

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