TCAT colonias project named finalist in TCEQ awards
A TEES Texas Center for Applied Technology project in which Laredo high school students helped to build and install wind turbines to provide power to border colonias has been a named finalist in the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards competition. The project team, led by Dr. Dean Schneider from San Antonio, will be recognized at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality awards banquet May 13 in Austin. About 40 high school students from Laredo's two engineering magnet schools worked with Schneider and researchers in the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) to provide electricity to colonias residents along the U.S.-Mexico border who are currently without power. Schneider said that students in the United High School Engineering and Technology Magnet School and the Laredo ISD Magnet for Engineering and Technology Applications (Cigarroa High School) are collaborating with TEES and WTAMU engineers to build and install four wind turbines in 2007 and 2008-one per year from each school. Two demonstration turbines, built by students at each high school, were installed in May 2007. One powers the electric marquee in front of Cigarroa High School in South Laredo and the other provides lighting for part of the Webb County Self-Help Center where colonias residents can borrow tools. The students built the wind turbines from existing plans and generated a set of instructions that will be translated into Spanish to be understandable by colonias residents in the U.S.-Mexico border region.