Photovoltaic Lab Stands

Igor Tyukhov

  Photovoltaic Lab Stands

Course Name & Description: ME115, Thermal Engineering Laboratory. 1 unit course that meets 3-hour per week that contains experiments to enhance the knowledge in Thermal Engineering, Energy conversion processes, Mass and energy transfer, Fluid mechanics. Students are also expected to practice acquisition, processing, and analysis of data by manual and automated methods, as well as report writing.

Project Abstract: This project is to develop laboratory experiments on photovoltaic conversion of solar energy  that enrich students’ lab experience, stimulate interests to green ecologically clean energy generation, and bring more versatile exercises. At the same time, the proof-of-concept PV lab model will help alleviate the pressure on department staffing when some installations need maintenance and repairing works.

Keywords/Tags: photovoltaic conversion, solar cells and modules,  Engineering Education

Instructional Delivery: In-class, Hybrid

Pedagogical Approaches: lab experiments

About the LIT Redesign (Stage 1)

Background on the Redesign

Why Redesign your Course?

  • Course Characteristics: Physical laboratory experiments are built to provide students with hands-on opportunities and to have been crucial for engineering training. San Jose State University (College of Engineering) has long been known as the ‘learn-by-doing’ university, and the Mechanical Engineering (ME) department proudly claims to be one of the few in the state that still provide so many hands-on labs to students. Traditionally, the lab is performed with 3-4 students in a group and a 3-hour session is scheduled to facilitate the exercise. Currently, the biggest constrain to offer more lab installations (ready for use if old ones need an maintenance and /or repairing work).  Also new areas are appearing in power engineering industry according to transition from fossil fuel technology to solar (renewable) energy technology.
  • The Learning Problem: As the U.S. transitions to a clean-energy future, employment is one of the biggest concerns faced by communities, individuals, and politicians alike, as various professions are now facing obsolescence — most notably coal miners and coal power plant workers. Even traditional text books like Thermodynamics (2019) and Heat and Mass Transfer (2020) by Cengel  - main text books for ME115, include topics and chapters covered topics of solar energy conversion.Without the physical experimental setups, it is challenging for the students to understand fundamentals of conversion of solar energy and to acquire practical skills for using solar modules in energy systems.  

High Demand/Low Success/Facilities Bottleneck Issues

The philosophy of education of the future is formed on the basis of the idea of what life and professions will be like. The transition to a new technological structures implies a qualitative redesigning of society and the economy, which means it leads to a large-scale transformation of the labor market, implies major changes in the existing “educational landscape”. In order to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, the field of education requires inevitable revision. The novelty of the philosophy of education lies in the understanding that this sphere has ceased to be a conservative area of human activity. The next two decades will be an era of radical changes in education: it will not even change the educational system itself, but the industries adjacent to it, coming with a change in the technological structure. 

California plans to increase their use of renewable sources and has approved a measure requiring all energy used in the sunshine state to be from renewable sources by 2045. More and more senior projects are devoted to solar energy. It reflects the general trend - shifting energy generation to solar (renewable energy). Designing new labs will be a good respond for transition power energy engineering to  green clean energy technologies. This project will give to students one more direction for future activity. 

As renewable energy (RE) technologies grow more popular and less costly, fossil fuels will become a relic of the past. Solar energy careers recently surpassed oil and gas drilling jobs

Although traditional laboratories should never be abandoned, the addition of new laboratories, in accordance with new engineering trends, will be beneficial for students and reduce the burden on the staff and equipment of the department.

Course History / Background

  • How is course placed in the department? ME115 is offered to junior/senior level Mechanical Engineering students. Students must have finished Fluid Mechanics I and have taken/are taking Fluid Mechanics II in order to enroll in this course. It does not serve as a pre-req course. It is a required course for the ME major students. Students usually pass this course without problems. However as the enrollment number kept increasing, the individual hands-on time is facing a challenge to shrink

(Upload syllabus from pre-designed course) 

San José State University
Mechanical Engineering
 ME115 Thermal Engineering Lab, Fall 2019   


About the Students and Instructor(s) (Stage 2)

Student Characteristics

  • Mechanical  engineering program at SJSU has three stems: design, mechatronics, and thermal-fluid sciences. Design and thermal-fluid sciences are the backbone of all accredited mechanical engineering programs in the country. Mechatronics is a departmental specialty at SJSU, and offers our students another fascinating and marketable field of study. Our hands-on curriculum incorporates a multitude of laboratory experiences to put classroom theory into practice. Prerequisites for Lab E115: ME 114 Heat Transfer (may be taken concurrently).  Undergraduate and graduate students took or are taking courses like fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer. This is good bases to study fundamentals and applications of renewable energy.

Advice I Give my Students to be Successful

Renewable energy, solar energy and particular photovoltaics are very fast growing areas. 

New labs devoted to solar cells, solar modules and balance-of-system provides insight into both the scientific foundations and the engineering practice of solar energy systems. According to the Energy Information Administration data on the growth of solar energy, strong job growth is expected, reaching as many as 290,000 new jobs by 2030. photovoltaic (PV) solar cells may soon be at cost parity with conventional sources and is expected to reach it around 2020 for coal-fired generating plants. PV is expected to become a significant part of the world’s energy future.

Impact of Student Learning Outcomes/Objectives (SLOs) on Course Redesign

  • Lab Objectives:

    identify the relationship between photovoltaic cells, modules, and arrays,

    describe the photovoltaic effect and the fundamental operation of PV devices,

    understand the current-voltage (I-V) characteristics for solar cells and define the key  I-V parameters,

    take measurements of the voltage, current and power output of a PV solar cells connected in series and in parallel,

    understand the  technology and features of photovoltaic modules,

    describe the purposes and functions of the major components in photovoltaic systems,

    identify the common types of energy storage systems,

    compare the functions of various powdered conditioning devices,

    analyze various electrical and mechanical balance-of-system components,

    understand inverter specifications and rating.

Alignment of SLOs With LIT Redesign

  • Two lab stands are devoted solar  cells and second couple devoted solar  modus and solar systems, according to SLO.

Assessments Used to Measure Students' Achievement of SLOs

  • How are you planning to assess the students' achievement regarding the SLOs?
  • What course activities are you planning to measure?
  • If you use an assessment rubric(s), please upload here.

Accessibility, Affordability, and Diversity Accessibility

  • The developing lab stands are convenient for not very moveable students.


  • Are the course materials and technologies used readily available and affordable for your students? Describe the potential cost savings when using more affordable learning materials. To learn more: AL$, COOL4Ed, or MERLOT


  • Lab stand allow to choose of level and interests of student because versatility of measuring characteristics and parameters.

About the Instructor

  • Igor Tyukhov, Moscow Power Engineering Institute (National Research University) 1972, Ph.D., 1979. More than 35 years teaching various physics disciplines (from general physics to solid state physics, photovoltaics and semiconductor lasers) and conducting research work on solar energy, solar concentrators, optical metrology, semiconductor physics and technology, renewable energy, solar cells, solar energy systems. Visiting Prof. at the George Mason University (1999-2000), the Oregon State University (2002-2003), and the Oregon Technological Institute (2003). Deputy Chair Holder of the UNESCO “Renewable Energy and Rural Electrification at the All-Russian Research Institute for Electrification of Agriculture, 1997-2017. Associate Editor of the Solar Energy Journal (Elsevier). The author of more than 300 papers, teaching material, reports, patents, book chapters and monograph. Adjunct Prof. of San Jose State University from 2018.

Curriculum Vitae

  • My C.V. with the details of my background and interests. (Please include your name.)

Implementing the Redesigned Course What aspects of your course have you redesigned?

  • I am creating new lab stands which will give students the opportunity to acquire practical  skills on photovoltaics.  As chair of ME Eng. Depart. mentioned in annual evaluation - the developing new labs  can be used in ME 115 (Thermal Engineering lab), and in courses ME170 Solar Energy Engineering  and Engr102 Renewable Energy Engineering.
  • What are you now doing or planning to do through the redesign of your course? 
  • We are at the stage of finalizing the design of four lab stands and measuring parameters and  characteristics of solar cells and modules.

Describe the class size(s) What technology is being used?

  • The size of ME 115 14-16 students, ME170 around 15 students , and Engr 102 should be similar it should be new for green minors. We are going to use quite usual important lab approach, where students study fundamental solar energy conversion processes and measuring. Next stage should be automation of the measuring processes (should be other project)  
  • What technology strategies have you adopted and why?  Our technology strategy is to teach fundamental principals using modern developments in engineering of energy conversion because students should understand the basic principles and also students should know modern equipment  and should be ready to work in modern companies, industry which are changing very fast. 
  • Explain how you have incorporated the technology to enhance your course redesign. In ME 115 lab we are going change old  or malfunctioning labs to new ones. In courses ME170  and Engr 102 (F2020) we are planning to teach students practical skills and show them updated solar cells and modules and newest components of autonomous energy systems. .

What professional development activities have you participated during your course redesign?

  • I was participated in Spring 2020 Student Success Research Program: my project title - New approaches to prepare the next generation of engineers: current trends in engineering teaching labs. 

Which Additional Resources Were Needed for the Redesign?

  • Describe, for example, how you might have incorporated or consulted with institutional research, instructional designers, department or campus colleagues, librarian, and/or the accessibility technology center.
  • I used librarian who helped to order new books, I used students from EE Departments and with help of students of ME Depart., our technician (thanks to Roger Jue) and my colleague (thanks to  Prof. Ed Cydzik)   we had acces to technology centers for making some elements and details.

(Upload your revised syllabus here) COVID - 19 did not allow us to finish this project as planned

LIT Redesign Planning (Stage 3)

LIT Results and Findings (Stage 4)

LIT Redesign Impact on Teaching and Learning

  • How has the course redesign strategies affected your instruction and your students’ learning? Did your redesign strategy solve the issues that motivated you to redesign the course?
  • We will add four lab stations which give us opportunity to teach 16 students two labs. 
  • Redesign of ME115 is corresponding to new modern tendecy in teaching Thermodynamics - including New Chapter 18, Renewable Energy in main textbook.
  • Describe how your students mastered the student learning outcomes. Were the students more successful in the redesigned course than in previous courses? Explain.
  • Students: three from ME and three from EE enjoyed to study new things
  • Did you experience unexpected results after teaching the redesigned course? If so, what were they?
  • Consider attaching a more in-depth report describing the impact of your activities and experiences during the course redesign as a document/link/image. If possible consider including samples of students' work that reflect the impact of the redesign.

Assessment Findings

  • Use table and chart template to report course data (required). 
  • Upload table and chart from your template (required) and reflect on your findings with a short description. You must include a course grades comparison of pre/post student achievements. Not available now.
  • Share how your students achieved the learning outcomes? Describe how they mastered the learning outcomes compared to previous courses?

Student Feedback

  • What did your students say or how did they respond to the redesigned activities? Consider including your students' comments about their learning. Include survey results if you are able to capture them. Include student video feedback (optional). 
  • All students - participants of this project were glad to widen their knowlege in new area of direct energy conversion.

Challenges my Students Encountered

  • What challenges did the students encounter in the redesigned activities? E.g., technical challenges, organization of course, and redesigned activities.
  • The main challenge was differnt background and for some students lack of practical experience. I do not mention here COVID 19.

Lessons Learned & Redesign Tips

Teaching Tips

  • What advice do you have for others who might want to use this redesigned course?
  • I can suggest topics related to Solar Energy to any teacher to any specialty to engineering, sciences, humanitarian areas... 

    I believe Solar Energy should be a key point for understanding and building  our future.

Course Redesign Obstacles

  • What challenges did you confront and how did you overcome them?

Strategies I Used to Increase Engagement

  • What pedagogical strategies did you use in your new redesigned course to engage students?
  • I showed them new opportunities related to our topic.


  • How do plan to sustain the LIT redesign beyond the funding period?
  • I am going to prepare new proposals.

Instructor Reflection

  • Reflect on your participation in redesigning a course, development of an ePortfolio, participation in CSU Course Redesign Professional Learning Community Share any plans to disseminate/publish the findings of your course redesign activity.
  • I am going to prepare publications with students who were participating more actively in this project.