This fall Physics 364 (Electronics) will have a project component. Pacific has chosen Sustainability as a campus-wide theme for this academic year, and with this in mind, I will encourage the class to consider projects that explore the application of technology (electronics, physical computing, etc.) to improving sustainability. This can be challenging as technology is often viewed as a culprit in the current global crisis. One major challenge for the project, is to transcend this view and demonstrate ways technology can help us in a global sense.
I’m always open to suggestions, although I do have a few ideas on ways electronics can be applied to alternative energy (power system control and optimization). One example would be an automated solar panel gimbal that would optimize the direction of the panel for highest power generation. I’m sure these exist already, but it would be a fun thing to make. I also know of at least one well-documented project using an Arduino to automate a home garden (the Garduino, see MAKE 18). If you’ve run across anything that fits the bill, or would inspire this sort of project, please let me know.