Duke Blue Devils spend Spring Break installing solar


March 23, 2017
Duke University Students at Yosemite National Park

Spring is in the air bringing nature to its prime and gifting us with bountiful sunshine, green landscapes and Spring Break! This spring, seven college students from Duke University traveled over 2,500 miles to help install a solar system for a low-income family and learn about renewable energy with GRID Alternatives. They were excited to gain hands on experience in relation to their future careers, and experience a new culture. GRID Central Valley’s first Solar Spring Break was a great success!

During their weeklong visit, the students toured California State University, Fresno's Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center where they learned about California’s water supply. They were especially intrigued by California’s recent drought and were relieved that the rain returned getting Yosemite’s massive waterfalls flowing in time for their visit. The students also had the opportunity to learn how to install solar with the help of GRID staff, gaining new skills while making an impact for a local family. They were excited to share what they learned and show appreciation to GRID Alternatives’ staff for a life changing experience.

Jenna Poplausky and Samuel Corwin learning on the roof with Adrian Sanchez

Jenna Poplausky was excited to gain hands on experience to solidify her theoretical knowledge of solar technology. As a Mechanical Engineering major, she is interested in the design of the solar systems and loves that GRID Alternatives combines community service with solar technology.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” she says.

“The install was phenomenal! We came in knowing nothing, but the staff showed us every step and gave us the opportunity to do it ourselves. Everyone at GRID clearly cares so much about what they do and why they are doing it. Everyone is so passionate!”

Amaree Gardner, a sophomore majoring in Environment Science, is exploring the intersections of environmental science, health, and policy. She is interested in the partnerships GRID develops, intrigued by our ability to bring so many different organizations together who share common interests, creating a more holistic approach leading to a larger impact.  

“During Solar Spring Break, I learned the importance of partnering with and learning from the community. I like seeing how these bonds and connections form by connecting with the people in the community, and employing people in the community. I really like solar and that it creates an avenue for that.”

Harshvardhan Sanghi is interested in using solar technology to help developing countries, believing it could help millions overcome poverty. He has not yet decided what his career choice will be, but he is one step closer after installing with GRID stating, “The most important thing I learned from my experience with GRID is that you should just do what you like and be happy with what you do. What surprised me with GRID was how happy everyone is and how passionate they are about what they do. When I am choosing my future career, I am going to keep that in mind. Rather than prioritizing money, I’ll just prioritize something I am really excited about."

Amaree Gardner, Harshvardhan Sanghi, Shomik Verma, and Rui Shan

Rui Shan a second year graduate student, majoring in Environmental Management, is originally from China. Rui wants to use his intellect to make an impact on developing countries. After working in low income communities in China and Mexico, he was compelled to help when he learned how GRID assists communities in California. In a beautiful letter written by Rui in appreciation of GRID Alternatives and his Solar Spring Break, he wrote, “Maybe years later, I will forget your names, your faces, but I will always remember that in Fresno, I have joined a story about love and courage.”