Ted Erski Explains the Science Behind Electricity

MCC students go behind the scenes of solar power at Shah Center

Energy Resource Lab students examine a solar array

Each semester, Ted Erski, MCC instructor of earth science, takes students in his Energy Resource Lab to get hands-on experience with the photovoltaic (PV) solar array that supplements the power at the college’s Shah Center, located in McHenry.

“Students are taken on a start-to-finish tour of how electricity is generated with photovoltaics,” said Erski. “We begin by walking under the actual panels to see how they are built and wired. Then we examine the inverters, review the physical construction of the array, and follow the wiring into the building to discuss how the power is used.”

After touring the PV array, Erski’s class completes a project similar to the Shah PV array. Students design their own array considering the same variables of square footage, power needs, and latitude, using industry-standard resources from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to help them make these calculations.