USD's Kroc School Prepares to Plug into the EnergiPlant

USD's Kroc School Prepares to Plug into the EnergiPlant

Patricia Marquez, PhD, dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, knows that the mission of her school is to train professionals of peace. Through its varied master’s degree offerings, each one is taught in the classroom, but the learning involved goes far beyond that confined space. 

"Our learning model includes experience and experimentation, where students explore innovations on the ground and meet people who develop solutions to change situations of inequity and injustice as well as people who get to benefit," Marquez says.

The latest addition to the Kroc School’s knowledge toolbox arrives on Thursday, August 2. The EnergiPlant, a structure produced by Primo Wind, will be installed for the first time on the University of San Diego campus in front of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

The EnergiPlant is a collection of large petals that serve as a "wind generator," four "leaves" that each have a solar panel and LED lighting below, a long stem where the wind/solar controller can charge a battery, and a three-pronged base that are benches and have USB ports to charge a cellphone or tablet. The EnergiPlant is also a WIFI hotspot.

"It is a free-standing hybrid wind/solar/storage energy platform, a Nano grid, that provides power for any number of devices, ranging from USB charging and LED lighting to security cameras, data collection and more," explains Ned McMahon, CEO of Primo Wind and a member of the Kroc School of Peace Studies Advisory Board. "It is 100 percent powered by renewable energy with no hard wiring or foundation required. USD’s EnergiPlant provides benches for study with USB charging for cameras or tablets, AC charging for laptops, LED security lighting and messaging along the benches to reinforce the mission of the peace school."

The structure is a visible reminder for USD students and the community that there are places in the world in the 21st century where millions of people do not have access to safe sources of energy.

"We prepare people to solve humanity's urgent challenges, which includes access to energy that is affordable and safe," Marquez says. "Primo Wind's EnergiPlant is an innovation offering an environmentally safe solution for people living off-grid or in communities emerging from natural disasters."

McMahon, a serial entrepreneur, focuses on designing products that create social, environmental and economic value. He has served on USD’s Center for Peace and Commerce's Board of Advisors since 2009. McMahon has been a guest lecturer, a Social Innovation Challenge judge and mentor and an overall supporter of USD and its students.

Marquez says the EnergiPlant idea came during a discussion with McMahon about her vision of a "sculpture garden" for the IPJ. "It was where students could engage with cool innovations that could be considered sculptures," she says. McMahon recommended EnergiPlant as the first such sculpture. Marquez liked the idea and on Thursday, the discussion becomes a visible reality.

"It made perfect sense because it would invite students and the USD community to learn more about social entrepreneurship and innovation,” she says. “I envision students sitting at the benches of the EnergiPlant connecting their laptops or cellphones while they catch up with others and reflect on what they can do to practice changemaking."

— Ryan T. Blystone



An EnergiPlant, seen here at the USD Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and JusticeAn EnergiPlant, seen here at the USD Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice

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