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The “Nerds” That Drive The Solar Industry

When your lights turn on or your car’s engine fires on all cylinders, it’s easy to forget the amount of effort that goes into designing the product to make sure it functions as it should.

What some people forget—not out of malice but merely out of incidental inattention—is that without talented engineers in both private businesses and in research facilities, we might not have some of the modern conveniences most of us take for granted.

Cell phones. Microwave ovens. Electric cars. And, yes, the solar industry. Without engineers, solar energy might still be an expensive niche market instead of one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States.

Early pioneers like Gordon Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Darryl Chapin (and today’s visionaries like Elon Musk) receive the bulk of the publicity and credit for helping to bring solar energy into the mainstream—and with good reason.

But without passionate engineers, committed to a green and sustainable future, working behind the scenes (often in obscurity), the visions of these men and others may never have come to life. Ideas are critical to bringing forth new technology to be sure, but it’s the engineers that take those ideas and form them into physical reality.

Think about each piece of equipment that goes into a solar array: panels, racking systems, inverters, trackers, monitoring systems—the list goes on and on. And an engineer of some sort touched each of them, breathed life into them and made sure they not only worked on their own, but guaranteed that they could be integrated with all the other parts of an array to create an electricity-producing powerhouse.

And that’s just the components—there are hundreds of engineers in installers’ offices everywhere looking at project designs to overcome obstacles like uneven ground, shade trees and cloudy days. It’s the engineer’s job to ensure every part of the equipment complements every other part so the system can perform optimally, always with an eye to exceed the client’s expectations.

So in honor of National Engineering Week, take a moment out of your busy schedule to thank an engineer for their service to the solar industry. After all, they bring good solar arrays to life.

Jobin Michael About the author
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