Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Uphill Battle with Biodiesel Manufacturing in the Winter

Hello Everyone,
As with any mechanically-based system with pumps and valves and hoses, there are maintenance requirements. We weren't expecting these so soon, I have to admit. However, biodiesel is not a friendly substance in cold weather. The slide show below depicts the Senior students and I taking the methoxide tank completely off, disconnecting hoses and valves in an attempt to find a glycerin blockage. I could easily be discouraged by this, however, this is he real world when it comes to manufacturing engineering and even life....things go wrong. The key is to step back, develop a "plan of attack", and slowly and carefully execute the plan. Evaluate the plan along the way because, guess what, sometimes the plan changes!! Nevertheless, we found the blockage and reassembly is on the agenda after the holidays!
I was particularly proud of Sami Jo today as she got right in there and got dirty with me. Kara helped a lot, as her primary job was documentation and photography.
Special thanks to my dad, Larry Russell Bryant. If it wasn't for his donation of large vice grips, channel locks, pipe grabber (?), and a pipe wrench our dis-assembly wouldn't have happened! Thanks Dad!!

Next steps...we will learn how to REPROCESS a batch of biodiesel that did not process as expected. Lessons Learned: add a couple of gallons of methanol to the methoxide tank prior to adding the lye. Make sure the lye is completely dissolved so that the small holes in the Schedule 90 will not get clogged. Make biodiesel in an area with atmospheric temperature of 70 or above. Drain all hoses and pipes after each batch. I am sure if it wasn't midnight (the only quiet time around here), I could think of several more!!

Hope you enjoy the slide show!

Monday, November 21, 2011

ETCA Members Participate in the Inaugural Business Concept Competition

I am so proud of ETCA members Jeremy Mackin and Alex Myers for competing and being awarded one of the $1000 scholarships for their business concept idea. Jamison Roberts was also a partner in this endeavor and I am proud of him too, as well as the other participants and winners. Congrats to all!

I was not able to attend the competition on Saturday, however I got the full run-down today in Senior Project class (Mackin and Myers are in this class). They actually said they probably would have been more nervous if I had been there! Anyway, the Senior Project class sat in circle today and dissected the constructive criticism given to the group by the judges. Our thoughts took off and it was apparent that an action item list must be made!!

The competition was sponsored by the Lindsey Wilson College Center for Entrepreneurship. This amazing addition to Lindsey's efforts to connect to the community and help the small business is awesome! You see, this is a win-win partnership. The business students get real life case studies that will help prepare them for a career in business/marketing/accounting, etc. (as opposed to fictional people and businesses) and the case study participant (a real business) profits from the hard work of the students by walking away with at least a real business plan that any bank would accept when applying for a loan to start the business of one's dreams! My hat's off to Linda Grider for leading this Competition as well as the "Build Your Own Job" Seminar series, in which over 120 people from 13 counties attended. This seminar series included 8 individual lunch seminars (Yes...lunch was provided and FREE!!) ranging from accounting practices to staffing to business plan documentation. Each attendee walked away with a folder that had a copy of the presentation, contact information, and a certificate of attendance. Great program! The Center for Entrepreneurship is scheduled to take residence at the corner of Burkesville St. and the Public Square (same side as Cafe on the Square) on January 17th. Guess who's going to try to occupy some space for small business incubation???.....ETCA winners Jeremy Mackin, Alex Myers, and Jamison Roberts! Woo Hoo!!

As a Senior Project class, I try to keep everything project based and geared toward energy...making biodiesel and solar panels. However, when a program like this comes along that I believe will benefit students during college, career, and citizenship, I venture off the beaten path a little. We're back on track as of tomorrow, though. Draining glycerin, ordering supplies, and re-processing a batch of biodiesel. Then...Gobble Gobble!

Have a great night and great Thanksgiving season if I don't talk with you before Thursday!! I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about what Lindsey Wilson College is doing to incorporate our high school students, college students, and community members/business people into a unit that can rely on each other for future success! EXCITING STUFF!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ETCA and LWC Students Visit the Corvette Plant

Hello Again!
Yesterday, October 17th, 2011, the ETCA's Engineering Class (Gamma Class) visited the Corvette Assembly Plant. I have taken each Academy Engineering Class so far on this exact trip! It is always a great way for the students to "see" one of the many fields of engineering - manufacturing! It is also my personal favorite because I practically grew up there (Co-op'd staring 1995 and then became full time in June 1998. I left GM in June 2002). I got to see a few skilled trades that I used to work with and several line workers; however, many have retired and had fallen to the economic problems GM encountered in 2008-2009.

Some "Thank You's" for the ability to take this trip and enjoy a great meal afterwards:
-Lindsey Wilson College: Luxury Transportation (better than a school bus!)
-LWC Horizon Grant Fund: Paid for the transportation
-Dr. Bettie Starr: Makes the ETCA possible
-Monte Dailey: A wonderful bus driver
-Lynn Herron: Tour Coordinator at the Corvette Plant who scheduled the tour and arranged for the engineers to speak with the students

I got to lead the tour, pointing out such things as the overhead conveyors carrying the painted panels, water test booths, robots applying urethane to the windshield, several operator-assist devices used for ergonomic reasons, the scheduling system used to make sure the right seats, engine, transmission, etc are put in the right car body. I also showed the students the station in CARTRAC where over 300 points are measured on the underbody to ensure a proper assembly once it gets to the trim line. These points all have X,Y,and Z locations in space and are evaluated daily and adjustments are made to assembly equipment based on this data. We talked about the quality control system in place, buffers between the trim line and chassis line to protect the final line from going down and thus causing unnecessary down time. We did not get to see the DVT (Dynamic Vehicle Test) this time because the operators went to lunch before we got to that station :( Still yet, a great experience!

This year, a Lindsey Wilson College Labor Relations class taught by Linda McKinley-Grider, went on this trip with us! Her students have been studying and following the UAW contract negotiations the entire semester. We had scheduled a meeting (Q&A) with a Labor Relations representative in Management, but an unforseen meeting was called in Nashville and he was unable to meet with us. However, a UAW Labor Relations Rep took time to speak with the class, answering questions mostly about the current contract negotiations. He explained the profit-sharing program that is "replacing" the old social cost that each employee used to get tacked onto their hourly wage, plus a bonus. He also spoke about the hiring of Tier 1 employees to replace any employees that are lost due to attrition.

Several of my old friends commented that I left at the right time. Obviously, GM has been through a few tough years, and the typical work day at Corvette had also seen change. When I was there, we were building between 18-22 cars per hour and launching the flagship of the Corporation, the Cadillac XLR. Yesterday, the rate was 8 cars per hour and the area where the XLR was built looked like a graveyard. So sad. I spent many hours on land and air getting prepared to build the XLR. I still see one on the road every now and then. Even though I believe it was a good personal move to leave GM, I will always miss working there! It always feels and smells like home when I go to visit. Nostalgic.

As we walked towards the Tour entrance (the same entrance hourly employees use), I noticed a new structure. There were five "bays" and a small, well-designed car was parked in the first bay. It was an electric car charging station!! Alternative energy technology as used in the auto industry! We got to see a Chevy Volt "plugged in"! This was a first for me and I was so glad I got to share the experience with the kids!

Enjoy the slideshow below! Remember, you can click on the slideshow to see my Picasa Album and the captions I have added to some of the pictures!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ETCA Members Join with the ACHS Science Club to Promote Recycling

Hello Everyone!
It's been a while since my last post...I have to admit that I have found it challenging to fit the FordPAS Engineering curriculum as well as all the projects into one trimester at Adair County High School! The next big event for ETCA Juniors (Gamma class) is a trip to the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, KY! I get to visit my old stomping grounds and give the tour. Some LWC students will be going with us to the plant this time. The LWC students are venturing out into the manufacturing world to better understand labor relations...the union/management relationship. This was one of the main reasons (probably the only reason really) that I left General Motors. I have spoken to these students as a guest speaker on what it was like to work in that environment on a daily basis. I hope everyone learns something that benefits their futures on Monday!

The Engineering class will come to a conclusion on the first week of November. I can't believe how time has flown! We have two fun projects to complete in the curriculum in a few short weeks....the Lego Activity (operator instructions and technical writing) and the Clay Pot Disaster (Reverse Engineering a failure to figure out what happened). I love these two projects!
When we are not working on these projects, we will be making our first batch of biodiesel with the drywash system installed.

The ETCA Engineering class joins forces with the ACHS Science Club and agree to work together on recycling at ACHS! Enjoy some pictures and captions in the slideshow below!

Our own Stefanie Tarter, who teaches the Academy's Intro to Energy Class, is the host of the new Lindsey Wilson College Magazine (TV show) that airs every Monday for a month at a time. There are a few shots in the slideshow below that documents LWC's Communications Department filming the ETCA students in action!

Enough for now!
Good night!

Monday, August 29, 2011

ETCA Boasts High Enrollment Numbers!

Hello Everyone,
Well, school has officially been in session since August 4th. I have 22 students in my Introduction to Engineering Class this trimester, as compared to 9 last year! There are 39 sophomores wanting to take the introductory Academy course, Introduction to Energy, in the spring! WOW! I am loving this growth!
I think the students are spreading the word that the Academy classes actually help them in other classes and they enjoy the hands-on, project based education.

This group of engineering students will experience something different than the past students as I attempt to balance the enormous amounts of project work, yet introduce them to engineering using curriculum, as well. Their first round of presentations went pretty well, as they designed the "ultimate can openers"! Next project will be operator instructions (using Legos), and of course, the continuation of Batch #2 biodiesel. As soon as the recycled denim insulation arrives, we will go head first into the Arnold House Project. As the weather gets cooler, we will begin the assembling of solar panels in the Ag Shop. I hope we get to this before the trimester ends in November. If not, the Seniors will have a lot of solar work to do from November until the end of the school year.

The Uganda Project light plant should leave for Africa sometime next week. We are tying up loose ends now, checking charge times for the battery, soldering risky connections, and relabeling the attachment points. Ronnie Kayula, the founder of Uganda Counseling and Support Services, will be taking this light plant back on the plane with him on September 7th. He has had a little practice with the assembly, and is looking forward to sharing this with his people. Thank you again to all our sponsors and donors that have made this project possible.

We have officially dried our first 40-gallon batch of biodiesel and continue to filter the "new" waste vegetable oil. We will not begin to process a new batch until the BioKleen Drywash system is completely installed. It will hopefully be completed by the end of the week.

I had an opportunity to speak one-on-one with Senator David Williams this afternoon. I didn't really get to ask him the pressing question on my mind regarding Kentucky energy portfolios and any possibilities for green energy tax incentives between all the comments regarding coal. I experienced politics at its best today! I will be starting the ETCA Radio Show tomorrow morning at 92.7 The WAVE at 7:30 with Larry Smith! Thanks to Mike and Laura Harris for allowing me the air time! Tune in to hear what's in store with the ETCA and City of Columbia!

I am so proud of the things that the Academy is accomplishing with the help of our community leaders, dedicated students, LWC Faculty, and you, our supporters. Academy members are having fun and learning at the same time....I love it when that happens!!!!

Signing off for now....picture slideshow coming soon!
ETCA Director

Friday, June 10, 2011

Camp Energy - Summer 2011

I believe it is safe to say that the first-ever "Camp Energy" was a SUCCESS! I always love it when the kids are learning and they don't realize it! I have two picture albums on the web that I will share soon!!
Some of the events of the two-day camp include: 1) exploring the science of energy and energy transformations...exploring how salt brine on the roads works in the winter, using solar energy to run a fan, learning why radiometers turn without any mechanical help, powering a light using apples! The list goes on! The students got to see the solar array on the top of the high school roof, see the 40-gallon biodiesel processor that is used to turn used vegetable oil into a fuel that can be used in diesel engines, tried their hands at designing wind turbine blades using different materials and then testing them using a fan and voltmeter! I think one of their favorite acitivities was "Energy Carnival"! The campers could earn energy "bucks" by playing energy-related games, then spending their bucks on prizes!
Thank you to 8 special people who help make this Camp an "energy-filled", fun and educational experience for all campers!! Paul Blick and Doug Keaton (NEED), Andrea Curtis and Bill Gittings (GRREC), and our very own Adair County teachers, Denise Grant, Jane Reed, Angie Smith, and Lisa Godsey. I think we all learned al little something!!!
Thank you again to KSBA, GRREC, and DEDI for having the grant money available to make this camp happen, and Thank You to Lindsey Wilson College for the $1000 donation to the camp that made it possible for us to get t-shirts and enhance the camp even more!!!

Enjoy the Slideshow, and don't forget to click on the slideshow to see the captions and camper names in Picasa!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lunch with the ETCA Seniors!

Well, It was a very emotional lunch today at the Cafe on the Square! The kids brought me some beautiful flowers and a touching card! Since their graduation ceremonies are at the exact same time, I have chosen to not attend either. It just wouldn't be fair, you know? So, we scheduled a lunch....my treat....as a graduation gift to the seniors who "STUCK IT OUT"! I think it's safe to say that they are glad they did stick it out.
Looking back...it was the first day of these guys' sophomore year. They didn't know me, I didn't know them. I had a plan, and they had no idea what that had signed up to be a part of! Mat Russell introduced himself using a British accent (which I believed for all of 1 minute!). Tra had massive amounts of hair....Noah's ponytail has only gotten longer, JD looks like he's older than 12 now, and all my girls have, shall I say, blossomed and have become quite mature young ladies! Jason Davis has stayed true to his dream of being a chef...but an energy-efficient one! I had to force Pepe to stay in the Senior Project class this year (I was competing against love...so my chances were slim), but he is really glad he stayed! We had a great phone conversation today, since he could not make the lunch.
As I watch my first group of students move on to the next phase of their lives, I have to admit it is bittersweet. I want the best for them, but they have been so valuable to the Academy and its many successes, I hate to see them go. I did give a bit of advice, unsolicited, mind you!
1. If you give 100% at anything you do, you will have few regrets.
2. No babies until AFTER college!
3. Just because you are not in my class anymore, doesn't mean that I'm not watching!
4. I am always here for you...no matter what.
We have developed a little family, and it was so great to see to rival counties have such a good relationship with each other!
Good luck and best wishes to all my "kids" as they move on to the next phase of life...which I reminded them was the most important in determining the rest of their lives!

Here's just how much JD's matured since the beginning days of the Academy. Remember the first awareness event ever? Compact Flourescent Bulb awareness at ball games!! Those were the days! Now we're making Biodiesel, solar panels, doing wind studies and so much more!!

Congratulations to all my seniors! Love you guys!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our First 40-gallon Batch of Biodiesel Was.....

After allowing the first batch to settle over the weekend, yesterday we performed the first of many recommended tests....the percentage test. If the % of glycerin fallout is between 15 and 20, then your biodiesel is considered to be "good" and ready to be washed. Our percentage (by volume) was 15.7%. So, yesterday we began the first wash process, which is simply misting in water and allowing it to separate from the oil, then removing the water. Once the water is removed, the pH is tested. We have to keep washing until the pH is 7 (neutral). After the 2nd wash, our water pH is at 8. We washed again today, and the water will settle overnight. Can't wait to see what the water looks like tomorrow! My guess is that it will take a couple more washes.

In the picture slideshow, you will see the students wearing safety equipment because we are working with chemicals that do not need to be directly inhaled or be in contact with the skin. There are very sensitive chemical titrations performed to determine how much lye to add to the WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil). You will see the students performing these tests. We tested, then re-tested...just to be sure. I could write and write and write about our experiences, but in this case I believe the pictures in the slideshow do speak volumes!

Please remember to click on the slideshow if you want to see the captions that I have taken the time to add to most pictures! Thanks to Doug Keaton with the NEED Project for visiting and helping us with our first big batch!! Now we just need to finish washing....then dry. Then test. But, there is light at the end of this tunnel!!!! Perfect timing as the school year ends on Friday!

State NEED Youth Award Ceremony in Frankfort, KY

This year's NEED Youth Award Ceremony was quite different than last year. Due to the large number of schools participating, I was only able to take 6 students. So, we did the democratic thing...we voted.

Here, I am pictured with Noah Schwika, Candace Mullins, Travone Taylor, Emily Holsinger, Matthew Russell, and James David Coomer. These were the student represenatives for the Energy Technology Career Academy.

Unlike last year, we did not win the state award. Were we disappointed? Yes. However, the maturity of the students was shocking. I took the opportunity to talk to the students about life...we don't always win! All that matters is that we gave it all we had. Life isn't fair. (How many times has my mother said that to me!??! ) We felt like our projects were "outstanding", and the judges did too! Just not as outstanding as another school. Everyone, in my opinion, at the ceremony did great work toward a great goal....energy sustainability.

We had "5 very strong projects" stated the judges. I have the judges' review comments, but did not really understand all of them. I think our projects were very technical and probably did not have enough of the "Kids Teaching Kids" theme. As the students and I discussed the ceremony outcomes, I think Mat Russell said it best..."Well, Mrs. Spoon, we didn't do it for a trophy." He's exactly right. Looking back, I wouldn't have taken on less projects and I would not have reduced the technical nature of our projects and curicculum. We are a technology-driven academy. Maybe we didn't reach down into the lower grades and educate those students enough, but the education that my ETCA students received is immeasurable. That was my goal!

Thank you to Karen Reagor and Doug Keaton from the NEED staff for all your positive comments and encouragement!

Please enjoy the brief slideshow of our trip to Frankfort!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The NEED Youth Award Submission and Uganda Light Plant Update

Hello Everyone! I have several updates since my last post! I will try to cover a couple tonight and the rest later in the week. My computer has some battery/charger problems and I need to get it to the IT department at LWC...but I can't afford to be without it!

NEED Youth Award Submission 2011
It has been very busy time for the Academy! Spring Break was the week before the NEED Youth Award deadline, so we lost a whole week to work on the submission! We, once again, were racing against the clock to get our NEED Youth Award submission completed and in the mail by April 14th at 3:45!!! I took the Adair Seniors over to Russell County High School on Thursday the 14th to finish the final compilation together, as an Academy! It was a great day! Stressful, but great!
I received an email informing me that the Academy was chosen to be one of the few high schools to have a display table at the NEED State Ceremony! So proud of our kids!! We submitted 5 separate goals 1)The Uganda Project 2) The Arnold House Project 3) A Wind Study in Kentucky 4) Solar Data Analyzation and 5) Biodiesel. Can't wait to take 6 students to Frankfort on May 18th! Wish I could take all my seniors and juniors, but this year the space is limited; so, voting will determine who will go. Democracy at work!

The Uganda Light Plant Construction Continues
Once again, Spring Break put a damper on the progress of this project at RCHS. And, WOW, the Senior schedule is crazy this time of year! As of today, I only have 9 days with my RCHS students!!!!!! We have a lot to do on the light plant, so I will probably have to do the battery discharging study with the ACHS students. The Anemometer is ready for a new home....the first 40-gallon batch of biodiesel is waiting to be processed....the Arnold House Project needs loose ends tied up and I would love to take a quick day-trip to Danville before the end of the year. Anyway, back to the light plant!! Below, JD Coomer, an ACHS Senior, gives a "Thumbs-UP" to the light plant...in a dark RCHS library!!

I have had so many opportunities to share my engineering background with the Seniors on this portion of the project. We really discussed error-proofing and its importance in any assembly operation. We talked about quality assurance, too. The students themselves did all the machining and construction of the plant itself, with the help of Lake Cumberland Technology Center's tools and equipment! Thank you LCTC! Emily Holsinger and Tra Taylor have been leading the Operations Manual portion of the project. Of course, it's hard to develop instructions using mostly pictures, until the plant itself is completed! Please enjoy the slideshow of pictures below and remember, you can click the slideshow to open Picasa and view the captions that I have added to most pictures!
Good Night....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Uganda Project - A Photo Update!

Hello Everyone!
Here are some of the pictures I promised! Remember you can click on the slideshow to view the pictures in Picasa and read the captions!


Monday, March 28, 2011

What a Great Week!

Good Evening Everyone!
This is just a quick update on the Academy's activities and upcoming projects. I have several new pictures to get uploaded, but just not tonight.... However, I do want to keep in touch because there is so much going on!!

We had a great week last week with Doug Keaton (NEED Project)! We, the ETCA students as well as myself, always learn so much when he comes to visit! We reviewed anemometer data, had a very good meeting with Dr. Bettie Starr, attended the Solar Panel Assembly meeting with Linda McKinley-Grider, Steven Gordon, and two LWC SIFE students! And that was just on Wednesday...not to mention the classes that were taught in Russell and Adair Counties!!!

We spent a lot of time Thursday pre-filtering and filtering WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil) for the 40-gallon processor. We continued on Friday, but the temperatures were very low and made it difficult to complete the oil filtration process. This project will be on hold until after Spring Break. Until then, we will devote our time to the Arnold House Project. We are looking at some very cool green technologies, such as a solar heating panel. We will probably make a trip out to visit the Arnold house to get some dimensions and more detailed pictures.

The Uganda Project is nearing completion. This week's goal is to have the cart assembled and the assembly manual written! It's aggressive, but do-able! We powered the light plant with the battery today, just to make sure it would actually work!!! The kids are so proud of this project. Tomorrow, we hope to have the light plant standing on its own...then we can start testing the battery and light plant for charge times, depletion, etc.

Last, but not least, we will begin writing the goals and supporting documentation for the NEED Youth Award submission! Last year, we won "National Rookie of the Year"! As you know, you can only be a rookie once...so, now we are competing with the pros! I DO hope and pray that I will be able to take another great group of students to Washington, D.C. this June!!!

I will be posting pics soon!!
Signing off....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tweet! Tweet!

For those of you who want to be notified every time I post a new blog entry, follow me on Twitter!! My username is: heatherbee777.

Tweet! Tweet!

Sophomore ETCA Members at ACHS Try Out Different Filtration Materials

Here are some pictures of the sophomore class at ACHS testing different filtration materials...blue jeans (as recommended by HomeBiodieselKits.com), pillowcase material, heavy curtain material, and fleece material. Students recorded their thoughts and findings during this little exercise. Remember to click on the slideshow to view pictures and captions via Picasa!

Monday, March 14, 2011

"The Uganda Project" Progresses!

Hello Everyone!
I want to share some of the progressions of the ETCA towards "The Uganda Project" light and clean water goals. My Senior Project class at Russell County High School is leading the design and build of the light plant that will be powered by a battery donated by Superior Battery. (Thank you Mr. Rollin McFarland at Lake Cumberland Technology Center for working this out for us! And, of course, Thank You to Superior Battery!!) This battery was going to be charged by two solar panels that my Seniors made last year as an engineering project; however, Mr. McFarland reminded me of the solar panels that were donated to the Academy in our debut year, 2008. I think we will use two of these due to the durability and the glass quality...especially since we won't be close in case of problems, etc. So, Matthew Russell, an RCHS senior, is our lead electrician. He is heading up the wiring harness design and is teaching other students as he goes. Emily Holsinger is leading the Instruction Manual portion of the project. Brad Stephens and Jason Davis have been instrumental in the modifications to the PVC pipe, which is being used as the "skeleton" that supports the lights. Enjoy a few of the latest pictures of these talented students' endeavors!! Remember to click on the slideshow to view the picture album and captions!!

The sophomore class, Introduction to Energy, taught by Mrs. Stefanie Tarter, is heading up the LifeStraw and water purification goal. We received our "The Uganda Project" wristbands last Friday!! We are selling them for $2 each and sales are great, so far! Each student has started out with 10 wristbands each, and many have already gotten their second set of ten!

Not sure if I posted this already, but the winner of the "Green Basket" that was designed and sponsored by the ACHS ETCA Sophomore Energy Class, was Mary Curry. Congratulations Mary! Autumn, the student with the highest grade in Mrs. Tarter's class, drew the winning ticket out of the box! Pictured below is the ACHS Intro to Energy and Intro to Engineering classes. Great job guys! You make me proud!

I am so lucky to be a part of such an awesome program! More to come...

Good night,


Biodiesel Pictures....as promised!

Hello Everyone! Here are some pictures of the students checking the biodiesel's glycerin fallout! Don't forget to CLICK on the slideshow to view the pictures and captions!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Biodiesel Results!

Well folks, the results are in!!
We did great on our first batch....according to the glycerin fallout percentages! I have some pictures to upload, but just not tonight. Ughhh....exhausting weekend; but looking forward to a great week!

  • Week 2 with "Windy" at RCHS.
  • The Uganda Project progresses this week as we start constructing the light plant and the wristbands arrive!
  • Hopefully, we will find a small diesel engine to "field test" our first batch!
  • Tomorrow night, I will be speaking to the City Council on the exciting events going on in the ETCA!
  • Tuesday is a meeting with Dr. Starr after school to discuss some rural agriculture opportunities.
  • Wednesday is the Solar Panel Assembly manufacturing plan meeting....have lots to do on this project before then!!
  • Hopefully making some biodiesel from WVO (waste vegetable oil) on Thursday and Friday!

More to come this week.....especially some pictures from Friday's biodiesel testing!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The First Batch of Biodiesel is Currently Processing!

Talk about anxiety!! I have to admit that I was a little nervous today as I was purchasing supplies to make the first test batch of biodiesel made by the Energy Technology Career Academy! I had to give my address and driver's license number at the hardward store when I purchased lye! That was after I had to prove I was over 18 at Wal-Mart to purchase an automotive supply called HEET! Evidently, these type products are used to make methamphetamine!

My students were so excited as we read the instructions, step-by-step, measuring, pouring, heating, mixing, and now....waiting! Special thanks to the Ag Department at ACHS for letting us use the barn (well ventilated area) to produce our first historical batch of biodiesel! We hope to find the proper fallout of glycerin tomorrow as we allow the biodiesel solution to sit overnight. Since we weren't sent the proper valving mechanism, it will be interesting to see how we determine the percentage of glycerin. Hope the separation is obvious!!

Please view the slideshow below for more pictures of the debut batch being made! Remember, you can click on the slideshow to view the pictures WITH captions in Picasa!

More to come......
Signing off for the night

The LED's for the Uganda Project are HERE!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the Uganda Project for lighting Buliike can now continue!! I got the LED's in the mail this afternoon, so tomorrow at RCHS we will connect all 7 lights, check for amperage, and make a PVC structural plan. Can't wait to get this project going again!! The sophomores will kick off "The Uganda Project" wristband fundraiser to continue the efforts to purchase LifeStraws and LifeStraw Family units. Let me know if you want to purchase a wristband - $2.00 each!!

"Windy" is Collecting Data in a New Location!

Hello Everyone!

Windy has been erected on the campus of Russell County High School! She is collecting data as we speak! I love this girl, she works 24/7 for us....rain or shine, or even snow!! HA HA

This was the first time the Russell County ETCA students erected the anemometer. It was "all hands on deck",so to speak! Sarah was the best stake-driver EVER!

Take a look at the slideshow below for more pics! Don't forget you can click on the slideshow and Picasa will launch, where you can look at pictures at your own pace and view the captions that I have added!

More to come!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Windy is Finding a New Home!

Students at ACHS took Windy down today in preparation for relocation tomorrow! Hint: Different county!! Be on the lookout on HWY 127!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Uganda Project Update

Good Evening Everyone!
Just wanted to give a quick update on The Uganda Project. The picture below shows three of the selected lights in a pitch black room! The slideshow at the end of the post shows more of the detailed work!

We have finally made a decision on the type of lights that will be used. They have been purchased and are now on their way! Mr. Jeff Selby, heard me doing a radio spot on the WAVE last week, and called to offer help. As it turns out, he used to light his Amish home with batteries! He had some awesome LED light with an approximate 120 degree viewing angle. He so generously donated them to this project; Lindsey Wilson College (who funds the Academy) purchased four more matching lights for a total of SEVEN!! All seven lights when connected will not draw over 2 amps!!! This means that the people of the village of Buliike can use the battery for over a week without having to charge it again!! (These are, of course, calculations, and have yet to be proven in a field test!). Special THANKS to Jeffries Hardware for helping us out with the PVC (which will be the structure of the light plant) and the wire and connectors. Also, a very special THANK you to Superior Battery for donating the deep cycle marine battery that will be used!
Next steps:
1. Gotta find an exporter that will do an "all inclusive" shipment. Due to the battery acid, special papers will need to be acquired and filled out, and a complete bill of materials must be prepared in a "special way". I have lots to learn about overseas shipments!
2. Once the lights are here, construct the structural part of the light plant using PVC pipe. We have the make the wiring harness and purchase a few switches so that this plant will be as simple as possible to operate.
3. TEST!! We need to figure out by testing how long the battery will keep the lights illuminated and exactly how long it will take the solar panel(s) to fully recharge the battery. This will be especially important for the life cycle of the battery itself.
4. Write instructions....using pictures and diagrams. Of course, our friend, Ronnie, can speak and read English; however, I would like to challenge the students to write assembly instructions for people who don't speak English. Isn't that what LEGO instructions are???

The fund raising efforts are going well! We are selling raffle tickets every day. We ordered 500 "The Uganda Project" wristbands today and will be selling those very soon. Proceeds from this particular fundraiser will go primarily to the water purification project, including the LifeStraw shipment (see my last post for more info on LifeStraw).

Wanna help? Comment on this post and let me know how you would like to contribute!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Where's Windy!

The Energy Technology Career Academy makes the local digital newspaper! Check out the article! Paste the link into your browser!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Uganda Project

I am so excited to tell you about a project that the ETCA is taking on called "The Uganda Project"! We are reaching our arms around the globe to a small village in Uganda, Africa called Buliike. Let me start from the beginning...
After a Christmas play this past year, my dad introduced me to a man named Ronnald (Ronnie) Kayula and his wife Ronah and daughter Praise. I learned that he had graduated from Lindsey Wilson College with both Christian Ministries and Professional Counseling degrees and that he and his family were going back to Uganda on January 31st. I asked about electricity, and he said, "Oh no....it is much too expensive! We only have candle light." So my wheels began to turn. I remembered the solar panels that my Engineering class made last year. Could they possibly help light this village for the first time in history??? As I began explaining the solar panels to Ronnie, tears welled up in his eyes. Then I knew....I had to do something!
Soon after, Dr. Starr approved some funding for the project and the students and I have been investigating different lighting options, battery types, cart designs, etc. Then Ronnie and his family visited the Academy students at both Adair and Russell County high schools. I felt this was important because I wanted the students to feel vested in this project; and what better way to do this than to meet the people that would be using the light! During the visit, Ronnie and Ronah talked about life in Uganda and how HUGE this lighting project actually is.

They told us that there are people who have never seen artificial light in their entire life...that there are children that cannot go to school because they have to work during the day, and have no light to study by at night...that people die there daily due to HIV/AIDS, poverty, and war. The students could hardly believe that there are people that still live in these conditions. They immediately shared the desire to help! You see, Ronnie and his family could choose to stay here in the "lap of luxury" (the USA)...yet, they are choosing to go back to a poverty-stricken village in Africa in an attempt to bring hope to a hopeless people....

The Junior and Senior classes are working on the solar cart design. This cart will be mobile so that the people can move it from place to place if needed. The cart will house the battery as well as the lights. The wiring plan is yet to be determined because we haven't settled on the type of lights yet!
The Sophomore class wanted to help with the clean water issues. They will be building a solar purification system for their water. As a missionary explained last week, he watched people there wash themselves in a puddle, then someone else would come get water to drink from that same puddle. He also told us about a little girl who found an empty water bottle. She took off the cap and put her tongue into the cap in hopes of getting the last little drop of water. The students cannot test this system until we get some sun!!!

So, in the meantime, we are launching a "Go Green Basket" fundraiser. Students are donating items daily. Some of the items include: Compact Flourescent Light (CFL) bulbs, reusable water bottle, dish towels, rope caulk, water faucet aereators, and more! Tickets on the basket are $1/ea or 6 for $5. Students will be selling tickets starting on Monday, February 7th during lunch. Each student will also be selling tickets individually. All proceeds will go to The Uganda Project. Most of the funds will go toward the purchase of 200 LifeStraws! (www.vestergaard-frandsen.com/lifestraw)

The company that makes these life-saving water purification straws, only sells the straws in $1000 bundles. This includes shipping to anywhere in the world directly from the factory in Asia. We are super excited about helping Uganda with our renewable energy technologies as well as with the LifeStraws!
Of course, if YOU want to help with The Uganda Project in any way, please contact me via email: spoonh@lindsey.edu.

Special Thanks and Special Mentions:
Lindsey Wilson College
Siemens Building Technologies
Jeffries Hardware
Superior Battery
Mr. Rollin McFarland, Lake Cumberland Technology Center
Kevin Spoon
Larry Bryant
Doug Keaton, Director of Career and Technolgy Education, The NEED Project
Terry Harvey

Be on the watch for another blog post soon regarding Windy!!

Dream BIG!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

LWC and UK join WIND forces to gather data for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

What an exciting project! LWC's Energy Technology Career Academy has joined forces with the University of Kentucky to collect some REAL WIND DATA for South-Central Kentucky! We're tired of everyone saying there's no wind in Kentucky (except for in the far eastern parts!). Maybe they're right, but we want the data to speak, not someone at a desk in Colorado!

Doug Keaton, NEED Project National Curriculum Specialist (sorry if this is the wrong title...I hardly ever guess right! but it's close) came down to bring us the anemometer personally! This was a great treat because he got to visit both my RCHS and ACHS Academy members and talk with them extensively about energy and the opportunities available to them! Doug is a barrel of fun and the students absolutely love him! He seems to reach students like no one else can...his real world experiences, his "this is how it is" personality, and his willingness to explain and converse with the students makes him a definite hit!! We are lucky to have Doug on our side, so to speak!

So, back to the anemometer!! We are going to name the anemometer "Windy"! One of the students came up with her name. It is very appropriate, don't you think? We hope to launch a "Where's Windy?" campaign in the local papers in both Adair and Russell counties, and of course this blog. I also hope to create a Facebook Fanpage so it's easy for people to socially network with ETCA. We will be moving the anemometer every 10-14 days, and sending the collected data to Frankfort, University of Kentucky, and it will be sent onto NREL. We have a map of the counties, and will be making sure we get a good disbursement of data across both counties. So, be on the lookout for Windy in and around Adair and Russell counties. There will be a banner posted in front of the anemometer, so hopefully it will be easy to spot!! Next location: Joy Arnold's house on HWY 768 past Gradyville!



Snow! Snow! Snow!...has put a damper on some project progression

Hello Everyone! It has been a while since my last post; so, sorry about that! However, things have been really busy for the Energy Technology Career Academy! We have yet another project that I am so excited about! Recently, at a Christmas play, my dad (of all people) introduced me to an extraordinary man named Ronald. He is from Uganda. He is a LWC graduate and will be going back to Uganda on January 31st of this year. His family came over to the States to watch his graduation and literally did not believe that he received 3 meals a day until they saw it with their own eyes! Ronald and his family will be starting a ministry in Uganda (he received a Christian Ministries degree from LWC). As I was talking with Ronald, I asked him about electricity availability in Uganda and he quickly told me that they would have no electricity. All reading, studying, etc., must be done by fire. Well, if you know me by now, my wheels began turning! I remembered the two solar panels that my Intro to Engineering class made last year (the ones for under $100 that helped us win NEED National Rookie of the Year). Wouldn't it be awesome if LWC's Energy Academy supplied solar panels to an LWC graduate on the other side of the world? If we helped light a village in Uganda so that people may hear the Good News? So that children could go to school again because they could study at night by light and still work in the daylight hours? WOW!!! How powerful (no pun intended!)

I was supposed to pick up Ronald on Friday at lunch and bring him to ACHS to meet some of the Academy students, but SNOW happened! We will reschedule for later this coming week! I want the students to meet Ronald personally so that they have that deep connection that will help them realize the full potential of their skills...especially in third-world countries! Of course, I will have pictures to post later and will hopefully get some good press for the Academy as we pursue this wonderful journey to Uganda!
Stay Warm!!! Heather