As a company, we are laser-focused on our mission to make solar energy a mainstream energy source. In addition to designing, engineering, and deploying the most advanced solar technologies, we believe the key to achieving our mission is to educate and inspire the next generation of solar pioneers.
Last July during Intersolar North America, we launched our Center for Solar Excellence technology showcase at our headquarters in Fremont, CA. Our secondary goal was to give Bay Area science teachers access to this Center and to find a way to fold solar and renewable energy into public school curriculum.
In my search for the perfect education partner during a Google search, I found the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, based in Washington, D.C. It was the strike of luck that we found this fantastic organization. Months later, we partnered with them and co-developed the NX Solar Education Excellence (SEE) Program. Our objective is to reach 30 local high school educators and up to 300 local high school students in the first year of the program, in order to enhance existing science curriculum and understanding of today’s renewable energy technology.
On the day after the Presidential Election, we kicked off our NX SEE program and boy did we need this boost of inspiration! In what we thought would be a semi-tired group of 30 high school teachers after they had already taught a full day of class, turned out to be the most hands-on, interactive, and motivational day we could have ever hoped for. Hats off to the 30 Bay Area high school science teachers from 20 high schools who were more engaged than ever considering the outcome of the election and what it may mean for renewable energy industry going into 2017. We were truly honored these science educators from all science and math disciplines to our headquarters to share our solar story and our unique and beautiful Center for Solar Excellence.
After introductions, we suited up in our safety gear and headed outside for a tour of the Center. This technology showcase and botanical garden is built with sustainability in mind, replete with recycled metal from our scrap yard, and includes ‘solar education moments’ along the path where visitors can learn about solar science and go deep on our technology.
Following the tour, the teachers were treated to a presentation on solar energy basics by NEED State Program Director (CA), Barry Scott, who then led them in a hands-on activity with solar kits, where teachers got an opportunity for some hands-on learning to explore how solar energy is created.
At NEXTracker we so very lucky to be supported by a leadership team who talk and walk our mission. Proof of this occurred when NEXTracker CEO, Dan Shugar, popped in to meet teachers and answer questions. The group enjoyed a spirited discussion about how best to engage today’s high school students on science, energy basics, and solar.