EastBay Today

Posted February 10, 2017

Cal State East Bay Celebrates Solar Suitcase Partnership

The project brings solar energy to children in need while providing STEM education to underrepresented minority students

Cal State East Bay, in conjunction with We Share Solar, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and middle schools in the Hayward Promise Neighborhood, celebrated a multi-generational humanitarian partnership bringing solar energy to children in need while providing STEM education and career opportunity to underrepresented minority students locally.

About 50 students and teachers from Cesar Chavez and Winton middle schools attended the event Friday, where their projects were demonstrated and celebrated.

Led by Cal State East Bay, local teachers and university students receive deep training in solar energy, who then mentor middle school students to build solar energy systems (We Share Solar Suitcases) that provide light and power for schools, orphanages and refugee centers in the developing world.

“One of the things we wanted to do in this class is have our students teach younger students, and work with the middle schools and high schools to teach what they’re learning here at Cal State East Bay,” Associate Professor and Department of Physics Chair Erik Helgren said. “It bridges the gap.”

The university and community educational partnership is building bridges to solar career pathways, creating a bright energy future by and for California’s diverse communities. The hands-on learning and acts of sharing inspire STEM learning, empowerment and altruism in California’s youth.

PG&E said it sees the partnership as an opportunity to introduce students to STEM education in a meaningful way.

“PG&E leads the U.S. as the utility with the most solar interconnections — more than 285,000 — including at Cal State East Bay. We’re proud to bring STEM education into local classrooms, and ultimately provide this life-changing solar power to communities in the developing world,” said Alicia Bert, PG&E’s Bay Area regional manager of public affairs.