FPL, FIU install commercial-scale solar panels

Talia Torbica // Contributing Writer

World’s ahead technology is once again making University headlines.

New commercial-scale solar panels have been installed at the College of Engineering and Computing by Florida Power & Light Company and the University. According to FIU News, “the only solar research facility of its kind that FPL has installed at a Florida university.”

The solar array has 1.4- megawatt, and contains over 4,400 solar panels. These panels create clean electricity and provide shade “for about 400 parking spaces.”

The installations will be used by FIU faculty and students from the Energy, Power & Sustainability program. According to EPS’s website “EPS is determined to break new grounds in research, education, and power distribution by bringing a wide-ranging approach into the way energy is produced and delivered.”

The goal of this research is to assist FPL with advancing solar energy within the state. FIU faculty and students, through a 5 years research grant, will analyze “data from the on-site solar panels to understand the impacts of intermittent solar power on the electric grid in South Florida’s tropical climate.”

FIU News reported that President Mark B. Rosenberg said “we’re engaging in groundbreaking, problem-solving research to address the challenges of our region and beyond. Our students will get hands-on experience . . . gaining skills that will help them compete for high tech 21st century jobs.” He described the project as a win- win for everyone.

Additionally, Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL said that “through this innovative partnership, [FPL] will continue to make energy infrastructure even smarter. The faculty and students working on this project are contributing to our state’s energy future – a future that includes more solar power.”

In a span of over 30 years, FIU and FPL worked together on various projects with the newest one being the Student Partnership Program. This program was initiated in 2010 in hopes of hiring local, “top-tier” employees and college graduates.

At FPL’s university based customer care center students will answer calls and assist FPL’s customers. FPL website states that this “one-of-a-kind operation provides FIU students with a unique opportunity to begin a career path with one of the state’s largest employers while learning important job skills.”

FIU students who become employees will go through FPL’s customer care center vocational training. Once the training is completed, students become members of FPL’s “first-class customer service team.”

Renato Almeida, FPL employee and graduating student of FIU 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science,  said that this is a great opportunity for FIU students. “This gives FIU students a higher chance of securing a job after graduation.” He added that “this partnership creates more opportunities for young professionals and can open many doors for FIU students.”

The position is open only to FIU students, ranging from freshman to senior, and requires a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Additionally, students need to pass a drug test. Students are required to work between 20-29 hours per week, as well as one weekend day at FPL’s customer care center, and will receive $12 per hour.


Image courtesy of FIU Media Relations

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