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Cuban professors visit Appalachian State University for sustainability tour

BOONE—Professors from Universidad de la Habana visited Appalachian State University recently to learn about Appalachian’s sustainable technology programs. Appalachian was one of only a few campuses the professors toured.

View larger imageDr. Arbelio Penton Madrigal tries the Appalachian State University solar vehicle on for size. Also shown, standing left to right, are Dr. Nancy Martinez Alfonso, Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment student Dan Blakeley, Pedro Franco and Dr. Jeremy Ferrell.View larger imageThe Scrum board is used by Appalachian’s Solar Vehicle Team to monitor workflow on their solar vehicle, the Apperion, and was of particular interest to the visiting Cuban professors.

The Cuban professors are interested in starting a photovoltaic solar program in Havana and reached out to faculty in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment (STBE). According to Dr. Jeremy Ferrell, a professor in the department, the guests toured the solar laboratory, the teaching facility in Katherine Harper Hall and inspected the Apperion, the university’s solar vehicle.

According to STBE student Dan Blakeley, “They wanted to learn all about what batteries and solar cells we were using. How the driver got in and out of the car and how comfortable it was to drive.” The professors were especially interested in the Scrum board, which is used to keep track of what needs to be accomplished on the car, who is responsible for it and when it should be done, he said.

The solar vehicle team is sponsored by both the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, which is housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The visit follows on the heels of the Cuban embargo lift by U.S. President Barack Obama. Faculty and students from Appalachian may visit Havana next summer, Ferrell said.