Getting Excited About Solar: High Schoolers Visit NEXTracker

By on March 1, 2017

NEXTracker recently hosted a group of high school students at our Fremont headquarters as part of our NX Solar Education Excellence (SEE) program. Inspired by the visit and filled with a new-found passion for solar, student Qing Huang of Irvington High School wrote the following blog post.

Why’d the solar panel cross the street?

To find sunnier prospects!

All jokes aside, this was basically the extent of what I knew about solar energy, until our “Principles of Engineering” class visited NEXTracker. Days before the field trip, we read pamphlets and watched videos in preparation of “aweing the employees at NEXTracker,” yet I was hesitant; could solar really be that interesting? Then the day came, and I opened my eyes to the solar industry. 

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Students from Irvington HIgh’s Principals of Engineering Class listen to NEXTracker Structural Engineer, Stuart Upfill_Brown discuss design process.

What struck me first was the variety of jobs and how everyone had a part in product development. From structural and firmware engineers to archivists, mechanical designers, and sales analysts, there were roles I never thought would relate to a “simple” solar tracker (which proved not simple at all!). I saw how diverse the industry was, with something to appeal to everyone. 

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Students get up and personal with NX Horizon’s control box with NEXTracker Hardware Engineer, Jonathan Kamei

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Students from Irvington High’s Principals of Engineering Class explore the NEXTracker test lab

Unlike other field trips, with dry lectures by adults talking at us, this was interactive. Through playing with 3D tracker parts, observing stress tests, and touring the research and testing field at the Center for Solar Excellence, explanations made more sense. Presenters answered all our questions—even those about complex gears and electrical components—and took our concerns seriously.

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NEXTracker Mechanical Engineer, Sam Heller shows students examples of CAD drawings he uses during the mechanical design process

I could tell everyone was so passionate about their jobs, about solar, and about bringing the best solar product to the world. Even the CEO took time to drop in and tell his story of falling in love with solar. 

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NEXTracker CEO, Dan Shugar shares his solar story and why he’s passionate about the industry

Before this trip, my knowledge of the solar industry was limited to rooftop solar panels. This field trip taught me about not only the logistics behind solar tracker designs, but also the various disciplines working together to form this industry. Although what will happen under the Trump administration remains uncertain, NEXTracker’s solar farms across the globe show that solar is bound to expand and play a crucial role in next-generation clean energy. And I’m excited!

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