Seton Hall Hosts Virtual Solar Power Platform Hackathon with Microsoft and Solar Landscape

Seton Hall has partnered with Microsoft and Solar Landscape to give students the opportunity to learn and leverage Microsoft’s services to analyze existing solar power coverage and propose expansions. Registration is Free and Now Open

Teams of students from Seton Hall and beyond are invited to participate in a Solar Power Platform Hackathon from October 21 – 23, a virtual event sponsored by Microsoft, Seton Hall University and Solar Landscape. Registration is now open and will close on Wednesday, October 15

The event offers students the opportunity to learn and leverage Microsoft’s Power Platform and Azure Cloud services to achieve the hackathon’s dual objectives:

1. Analyze coverage and equitable access to community solar facilities for different demographic communities in New Jersey, and

2. Propose new community solar development sites to expand the New Jersey Community Solar Program.

The teams, which can include both undergraduate and graduate students, will conduct an initial analysis of the community solar landscape using Microsoft’s platforms. They will then complete a prototype application and deliver a presentation explaining their prototype, including a video demonstrating it. Participating in the hackathon will provide students an opportunity to leverage a power-packed combination of coding skills with problem-solving abilities to address the real-world challenge of expanding the community solar market.

The New Jersey Community Solar Program, which is managed by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, expands equitable access to clean energy for residents. It allows both renters and homeowners to subscribe to locally-produced solar energy. The program encourages installing solar facilities, which provide electricity at a lower cost to households than traditional fossil-fuel power plants, to serve communities across New Jersey. It also requires that at least half of the residents who benefit from this more affordable energy are low- and moderate-income households.

The hackathon’s goal is to encourage an understanding of the deployment of community solar panel technology for electricity generation in New Jersey. The hackathon is of special relevance for students interested in data science, computer science, environmental issues and public policy.

“The Solar Power Platform Hackathon is a great opportunity for students to help address an important issue of access to clean energy in New Jersey and to learn modern technologies for data science and cloud computing. The students leverage data to develop apps that help policymakers and ordinary citizens in New Jersey with the deployment of and access to solar energy facilities,” said Manfred Minimair, professor and director of the M.S. in Data Science program at Seton Hall.

“For developing apps, the students use the Microsoft Power Platform, a ‘low-code’ analytics and cloud computing platform that is accessible to individuals without programming backgrounds. The hackathon will include cross-disciplinary teams of students interested in applications of data science, computer science, public policy and environmental issues,” added Minimair.

At the hackathon, a keynote speech will be delivered by Katelyn Gold, Director of Community Engagement at Solar Landscape, the leading provider of community solar nationwide energizing underserved neighborhoods. Gold, who was named a 2021 Top Solar Changemaker by Solar Power World, oversees the company’s job training and renewable energy education initiatives.

“Community solar is making clean energy more equitable nationwide, but there are still millions of homes that don’t yet have access to renewable energy,” said Gold. “I applaud these students for leveraging technology to expand the use of community solar, which can empower people and energize neighborhoods in so many ways. From creating jobs to lowering emissions to building a safer, healthier world for us all to live in, I believe that community solar represents our future as much as these students do.”

Seton Hall faculty hackathon co-organizers from the College of Arts and Sciences include:

• Shajina Anand, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

• Manfred Minimair, Ph.D., professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Seton Hall faculty public policy data hackathon student mentors from the College of Arts and Sciences include:

• Matthew Hale, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs

• Terence Teo, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs

Urging students of the value of participation, Anand said, “The hackathon will offer great exposure to students and researchers about how new trends in artificial intelligence and analytics can help to provide insights on expanding access to cleaner energy in New Jersey. This will also be a platform for various students and other participants to explore the multitude of features on the Microsoft Azure cloud.”

The hackathon enables students to promote sustainability and address the challenge of climate change. It provides students with an opportunity to change the solar energy landscape with their technical and critical thinking skills.

The event is open to teams of college students, with a maximum of six participants per team. Students from all educational disciplines are encouraged to participate.

The hackathon will start on Friday, October 21 with introductions and Gold’s keynote speech in the morning, followed by Power Platform tutorials in the afternoon. The challenge execution and application development will continue over the weekend and conclude on Sunday, October 23. Winners will be announced in November.

For more information and to register, please visit the Solar Power Platform Hackathon website.

ABOUT SETON HALL UNIVERSITY

One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership — developing students in mind, heart and spirit — since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 80 rigorous majors, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, US News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek. Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and caring global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car to New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. A new independent economic analysis of the University found that Seton Hall provides a significant impact on New Jersey’s economy, totaling over $1.6 billion annually and creating and sustaining nearly 10,000 jobs. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark. The University’s Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. opened in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus houses Seton Hall’s College of Nursing, its School of Health and Medical Sciences as well as Hackensack Meridian Health’s Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. For more information, visit http://www.shu.edu.

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