Ford Motor Company this week used the university’s new solar-powered electric vehicle charging facility, located in parking lot D1 next to Memory Mall, as the backdrop for the Florida debut of its new hybrid version of the Ford Escape vehicle.

Greg Frenette, manager of global electrified fleets for Ford Motor Company, praised UCF, calling the solar charging station “a perfect example of the forward thinking needed to advance the electrification of transportation.”

UCF President John Hitt said the facility “captures the imagination, critical thinking, innovation, and hard work of our best researchers in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.”

Other guests at the Ford Hybrid Escape debut event included Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty and Rob Caldwell, vice president of efficiency and innovative technology at Progress Energy.

The UCF Smart Solar Plug-In Test Facility is a test bed for UCF’s electrical engineering researchers to evaluate electrical power conversion hardware and controls.

“The advances will continually roll out of the lab by our faculty and researchers, and be directly applied to the solar carport,” said Marwan Simaan, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The carport is called “smart” because any unused energy that it generates is re-routed to UCF’s power grid, helping to reduce the amount of energy UCF must purchase. The carport generates enough power to run 100 computers each day.

The solar plug-in carport facility was funded by a grant from the Florida Energy Systems Consortium.

Also this week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is visiting UCF to report on the university’s many sustainability initiatives. UCF is the only university in Florida that DOE selected for its current national tour of the best green initiatives happening at colleges and universities nationwide.

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