Hangin’ at the Dok: Maryville College gets solar-powered picnic tables
By Katie Forrester | Maryville College
The picnic tables in front of Pearsons Hall are popular hangouts for students, faculty and staff of Maryville College — particularly during spring and fall months. But that “hangout spot” is about to become even more popular.
On Friday, employees of EnerFusion erected two solar-powered picnic tables called Solar Doks. The tables, which cost $11,000 each, were funded through a grant from the Cargill Foundation.
Maryville College is only the second college or university in Tennessee to have Solar Doks added to their campus. Vanderbilt University installed one on Thursday.
The Solar Doks are made from recycled HDPE materials (such as milk jugs and water bottles). The tables feature three 45-watt solar panels on the sides and one 100-watt solar panel on the top of each table’s umbrella.
The tables will seat eight students and have outlets to plug in cell phone chargers and laptop computer chargers, in addition to USB ports for smart phones. They are also placed in an area where Wi-Fi is available.
“We are very excited for their delivery,” said associate professor of art Dr. Adrienne Schwarte, who spearheaded the project with Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of MC’s environmental studies program.
Schwarte received feedback on the design of the tables, which are in Maryville College colors and feature the college’s logo, from her ART 323 students.
The tables are made out of recyclable materials, which will also help maintain the college’s green efforts.
Additionally, each table is equipped with a backup battery and monitors to display energy production and consumption.
“We wanted them to be a sort of social pod,” Schwarte said.
As Schwarte explained, the new tables will also make holding classes outdoors more feasible, as access to technology will no longer be an issue.
“There will certainly be many opportunities where this can benefit students in other courses,” Schwarte said.
Certainly the idea of plugging into a picnic table is unique to MC, and according to Schwarte, the students she has spoken to about the project are all very excited.
“This provides a great opportunity for everyone to get to be outside more and see each other,” Schwarte said.