As we are enter the second quarter of our junior year, I know that we’re all already feeling exhausted and ready for a break! It’s that time of year again for the ‘when is our next break – I desperately need it’ feeling. In unrelated news, this week we got up to some pretty crazy things in engineering class.
Well, pretty crazy is a bit of an overstatement. But we did end the week on a high note when we all got to take a break on Friday to go to visit Energy Recovery in Oakland. We were lucky enough to make the very journey that our engineering mentors make every week to come and talk, discuss, and help us with ideas for projects. Though we may not be as able as they are at engineering right now, it’s only a matter of time!
Upon arriving, we sat down and talked with the CEO of the company about what Energy Recovery is and how awesome he believes it is. He also talked about his route to becoming a CEO of an engineering and environmental company. He taught us about CleanTech 2.0 which is when we use brains to think about the best options, economically and sustainably, of going green (as opposed to CleanTech 1.0 which is just about going green at any cost and means going too far too fast). The CEO told us that he believes Energy Recovery is a CleanTech 2.0 company which is great!
We then saw a presentation on the products that Energy Recovery makes. They have two main ones: one for water distillation and a turbocharger. We mainly focused on the PS X (the product for water distillation). This device is not only 98% efficient (a lot more efficient than other ways of distilling water), but it also is a long-term device.
After discussing their products briefly, we got to take a tour of their downstairs basement/factory/huge production area which was filled with all kinds of machines and markings and processes to make their product. We learned so much about how it is all developed and made into a final product.
Lunch, I’ve got to say, was one of the highlights of the day. The fruit platter was amazing. Besides that, we got to talk to a lot of the engineers about the “totally radical” music we listen to these days in high school.
Finally, we showed them our designs for a wind turbine. There seemed to be ten times the amount of engineers in the room for our presentation. I wasn’t even sure where half of them came from. They watched as we demonstrated each designs and then we learned some important lessons about moving forward with this project. From what I gathered, we have to realize that this may not even power anything, it’s more of a learning experience. I mean, what other high schooler can say that one of their school projects is to make a working wind turbine? We should stop focusing on “what can this turbine do” and start focusing on “what can we do to make this turbine effective and efficient.”
The trip to Energy Recovery was, overall, a great learning experience and it was so interesting to see what the real working world is like outside of high school.
As we move forward with engineering class, I’m intrigued to find out our next steps in developing this wind turbine and hopeful that it will be successful (especially with the help of our awesome engineer friends down at Energy Recovery.)