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Friday, June 18, 2021

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Engineering Holiday Cheer

SDSU engineering students debut a solar-powered holiday tree in Santee with the help of SDG&E.
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SDSU student engineers designed the system for lighting this tree as part of a unique mentorship program provided by SDG&E.
SDSU student engineers designed the system for lighting this tree as part of a unique mentorship program provided by SDG&E.

For the fifth semester, SDG&E has sponsored and mentored 10 of San Diego State University’s undergraduate electrical and computer engineering students by providing guidance on senior design projects. 

This semester’s project: “Light the Island” at Santee Lakes is the first year the students took their work from the lab into the community.

The final project, designed by the students, is a holiday light display powered by solar and battery energy and programmed to music broadcasting on 88.1FM.

Lighting up the community

The team of SDSU engineering students created a 35-foot holiday tree made of aluminum and steel, with 81 strands of energy efficient LED lights. The system powering the display is made up of two solar panels and four deep cycle batteries, which create a small micro-grid on the island and is self-sustained.

Based on the charge levels of the batteries, and forecasting of sun availability to recharge, the system is designed to automatically choose a lighting sequence that will not drain the batteries.

In addition, there are large white twinkling LED lights that can be controlled via the web. By visiting the team website and clicking on the user interaction link, a visitor can choose a light pattern to display on the tree.

Visit the project in Santee

The lighting display is active every evening from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. throughout the month of December, assuming there has been enough sunshine to at least partially charge the batteries.

The SDSU engineering students involved in the project include:

  •  Alvin John Del Rosario
  • Michael Bautista
  • Erik Mendoza
  • Martin Padilla
  • Steve Schulz
  • Nick Apuzzo
  • Jonathan Gibbs
  • Leo Ulman
  • Javier Vizcaya
  • Angel Rodriguez