Solar Energy & Engineering

Course Description

Together we will review the basics of solar energy and highlight its role in our everyday lives. By establishing an increased understanding of how solar cells are made, how they work, and how they fit into our daily lives, you will develop a deeper connection to solar. We will also focus on the scientific method and showcase best practices for conducting experimental research.

The expected learnings for the course are broken into two categories. The first is to develop a technical understanding of how a solar panel is made and how it works. We will cover the basic physics of photovoltaics and the materials science processing involved in the production of solar cells. Next, you will gain an understanding of units of energy, common generation sources (where our electricity comes from), and energy consumption (how much electricity does our common household items require?).

The second is to understand the greater context of solar energy, in terms of energy production, transmission, and the electrical grid, and touching on the interweaving of politics in each of these areas. We will discuss some of the factors aiding in or preventing the advancement of solar energy and how renewable energy addresses issues of equality and equity in our communities. We will also touch upon ways to reduce our energy consumption. This course includes an academic project that you will work on over the two weeks and present on the final day to your peers.

By the end of this course, you will gain:
• A basic understanding of how a solar cell works and how one is made
• A greater personal connection with the importance of solar energy
• The ability to connect college-level, technical engineering concepts – such as the definition of energy, power, current, and voltage – to observable real-life objects such as electrical transmission and electricity generation

This course will provide a foundation for certain physics topics that can be built upon with other subjects not necessarily related to solar energy. For instance, an understanding of solar cell manufacturing and operation is directly relevant to studies in semiconductor computer chips and LEDs. The class will also introduce a number of important concepts to solar energy engineering that are becoming increasingly taught in first-year, college engineering courses.


Students are not expected to have any existing knowledge of solar energy or electrical engineering. Please note that students who have basic algebra skills and a basic knowledge of computers (powerpoint, excel) are best prepared to participate in this course, however it is not a requirement.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 18, 2022 - July 29, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A and 2 afternoon class sessions per week
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Tara Nietzold
Course Number: 10390