MESA has started new project involving electrical engineering


Araceli Valencia

MESA advisor Andrew Walter explains what the solar suitcase is and how it is used.

The MESA program has always offered opportunities for students and club members to work on creative projects. This is the first year the MESA program will participate in the Solar Suitcase Project.

The Solar Suitcase Project consists of a group of people that construct a battery using that can power up a house. The suitcase contains electrical equipment that will be used by students to build a battery. Suitcases are used in remote Third World locations in order to connect with people.

“You start from scratch,” Andrew Walter, MESA advisor, said. Students and members are to create a functional battery using only the equipment inside the suitcase.

Alex Qualls, a junior, says that the key is that the battery is “durable and efficient.” Solar suitcases are expensive and the MESA program is grateful to own a few. “Each kit costs about $750,” he said.

“The Cortopassi family from Stockton is willing to donate three solar suitcases to the program,” Perla Gonzalez a junior, said.

Students are preparing themselves for this activity by learning the basics of electrical engineering. “We’ve taken notes and took a quiz,” sophomore Edwin Hidalgo said.

As they prepare to start, participants have shown excitement towards the activity. “I am excited that I’m being exposed to different types of projects,” he said.

“It’s a way how Stagg can be connected to other schools,” Gonzalez said. Using the equipment and building a battery, the MESA program has thought of sending it to other schools in the district. “We’re planning to branch it out to other schools to provide electricity,” she said. “For example, to charge their phones.”

Several groups are participating in this year’s project, but only three groups will be chosen. If a group is selected and is considered one of the best, the participants receive the opportunity to visit a Third World country.

Students say it is beneficial to create this battery and help others that are in need. “People never think of other countries, like the consequences they have to face just because they don’t have electricity in their homes,” Gonzalez said.

The school with the best design can win a trip to a country like Cambodia, Nigeria, etc. and the participants can power up a house using the battery.
Walter is planning to ask students if there will be chance to take batteries to their home country, to provide others with electricity . “We can send them to villages in Mexico that need electricity,” he said.

“Although I am not interested to become an electrical engineer, this is great way I can learn different skills I may use in the future,” Gonzalez said.

Qualls said that this project is a “good way to be exposed to diverse fields.”

This project will both benefit students and, most importantly, families in Third World countries. “People should realize that we don’t have the same luxury as other countries,” Qualls said.