Cal Poly Engineering Students Bring Green Technology to Salinas

April 01, 2008

As part of an effort to revitalize the historic Salinas Chinatown neighborhood, Cal Poly engineering students will develop a renewable energy source for the community garden.

The students will collaborate with peers from CSU Monterey Bay, who received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the project.

Cal Poly students will design and produce a wind turbine for energy generation and a battery storage system to maintain power overnight. They hope to provide enough energy to power lights, heaters and power tools, which would take the community garden entirely off the city's power grid by June.

They will also draw up plans for a "Green Technology Demonstration Park" to be constructed by future students. This park would not only generate sustainable energy for itself, but would provide energy to power neighboring Dorothy's Place, which serves as a multi-purpose facility for people who are homeless or in transition.

The Cal Poly team consists of four mechanical and computer engineering seniors - Arya Vigeh, Daniel Hiranandani, Brennan Fay, and Andrew Gossman.

"This project stood out to me because our results will immediately and directly impact a large community of people, which has otherwise been neglected," said Vigeh.

The project is one part of a larger effort to bring a struggling Salinas neighborhood back to life. "It's the only remaining Chinatown between San Francisco and Los Angeles," said Lynne Slivovsky, computer engineering professor and project advisor. "This project is a test of keeping culture alive while being able to provide sustainable energy services and opening the area up to business and residential development."

CSUMB initiated the project with a vision to transform Chinatown into a safe neighborhood with nearly 2,000 homes. They developed the garden themselves, but for the green technology project they teamed with Cal Poly because of its engineering students and technical resources.