Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stephen Levy, Jim Hackworth, Stefan Partin

Stephen Levy Heats Up Solar Energy Education

A second generation engineer, Stephen Levy, originally from New England, says he really does not feel retired since he has chosen to spend his remaining years focusing on the issue of solar energy. He believes that the sun is a gift of life for us all and that we must make the best use of this gift of life as best we can.

Jim Hackworth along with Levy registered with the state, the state chapter of the American Solar Energy Society as the Tennessee Solar Energy Association (TSEA) on July 4th 2009. TSEA is a 501c(3) organization dedicated to educating Tennesseans about the many unique benefits of using solar energy. TSEA believes the adoption of solar technology in the state of Tennessee will help create energy independence, lessen harmful environmental impacts, and result in cost savings for consumers.

Levy is currently the technical director of the Tennessee Solar Energy Association. He has been in the electrical power business all his adult life has had his father who worked for Stone & Webster on the Manhattan project. While at Fort Monmouth New Jersey for 30 years he was president of the New Jersey Environmental Commissions as well as a local planning board member. He also came into contact with William Cherry while at Fort Monmouth. Bill Cherry along with Dr. Paul Rappaport and Dr. Joseph Mandelkorn created the model solar cell. The result of his efforts were first presented to the public in 1979 when he gave the first presentation on the advantages of rooftop solar to the New Jersey Builders’ Association.

Levy spent 35 years in electric power generation, energy storage, transformation and switching. He holds 12 patents and has served as an invited lecturer at 7 universities during his career. He was also appointed by the Ballistics Missile Command to their technical advisory board . Much of the work he did in his years in the industry was in army research. He was the Army project engineer responsible for the design, construction, and promotion of the Army Pulse Power Center, a $25 million advanced 30 megawatt testing laboratory for developing directed energy weaponry. He was cited by the Electric Power Research Institute for his founding and chairing the Interagency-EPRI Alliance in the “pioneering development and use of MOS-controlled thyristor technology.”

Levy’s career included work on top secret programs with the US military that were so secretive that, even he, did not know exactly what he was working on. Levy says he tested parts and wrote reports only to learn years later that the parts had been for atomic bombs.

Levy who was trained at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and New Jersey Institute of Technology, continues to have a focus on education.

His strong beliefs that today’s youth needs to understand the importance of solar energy led him to join with Professor Tom Meek of the Materials Sciences Department at the University of Tennessee four years ago in offering a graduate level class on solar energy. Levy says his first class contained eleven wonderful students. He says that teaching the class has been one of the best things he has ever done. He says the students are simply brilliant and he enjoys learning from them. “I’m sure I am learning more from them than they are learning from me,” he said. “They make me feel like our future is in good hands.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012