Students propose “technological rebirthing” of Kent State

Hannah Kelling

Self-proclaimed “pioneers” in the development of Kent State campus, a team of students from the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology presented their vision to President Lester Lefton Dec. 5.

Beginning at 2:15 in the conference room of Van Deusen Hall, the meeting was built upon the students’ desire to blend sustainable energy into the university’s infrastructure. In an effort to perform a “technological rebirthing” of campus, the students hope to drastically reduce energy bills and the carbon footprint the university is leaving.

“The message we need to send to the administration is that we can become a very energy efficient campus,” said Dr. A. R. Chowdhury, the professor teaching the Automated Manufacturing course that supported the presentation.

The presentation focused on three key issues: solar technology, transportation development and efforts to connect the campus through updated wireless technology.

Lefton, meanwhile, approached the meeting with some reservations.

“It’s all about the money to me,” he said. He asked the students about the viability of their ideas, including what had and had not been attempted elsewhere.

Several innovative ideas were presented. For example, covering buildings from ceiling to exterior walls with solar panels that would track the sun like wildflowers. Heated sidewalks, biodiesel-fueled buses, an open “cloud” wireless network and rapid transit cars lining campus were also suggested.

“It’s pretty blueprint,” said Dan Kish, junior industrial technology major, when referring to walkways constructed with extremely durable glass and LED lighting that would be able to project messages from underfoot.

However, Kish said the students have accepted the idea that their generation is charged with finding solutions to current problems with technology still in its “prototype” stages. The goal of the presentation, he said, is to “get the ball rolling.”

The students also expressed interests in putting Kent State on the national stage as an innovator. Jonathan Adams, sophomore applied engineering major, said he hopes to highlight needed innovation using the university’s recent football success.

“We want to keep it going by making our stadium an icon to the rest of the nation,” he said, proposing a covered dome for the structure that would incorporate solar panels.

Lefton was more receptive to some ideas than others. While he seemed largely in favor of introducing a monorail between the downtown area and the student center, the more elaborate projects met with many cost-related questions.

“I’m impressed,” he said, “and I’m not easily impressed.” He left the meeting only after giving the students a challenge: to design and propose a solar-powered, LED-lighted sign that he could place in the Risman Plaza walkway.

“I’ll pay for it if it’s a reasonable price,” Lefton said. “Let’s turn it into something real.”

Contact Hannah Kelling at [email protected].