Student group seeks to build solar smoothie machine

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) is recruiting students to help with their solar smoothie project.

Olga Dotel, a junior in energy engineering, explained the solar smoothie concept: "It's a cart comprised of solar panels that charge a battery. The battery runs the blender that makes the smoothies. One charge can last up to eight hours."

Drew Golterman, a mechanical engineering senior, has been involved with the project since spring 2012. He said, "At first, the group had a very solid idea of what they wanted the cart to look like. Most of the design work was done by a graduate student in industrial engineering, who created a very detailed model and simulated some of the stresses on the model in programs. After that semester, he became less involved with the club because of his academic work, and the project stagnated because nobody else was as familiar with the model as he was."

ESW members are now actively working to finish what they started. Golterman noted, "This past summer, two of our former presidents worked continuously on the cart to build the rest of the structure."

The team needs students with welding and electrical engineering experience, as well as students with an interest in entrepreneurship, to help in the effort. 

Dotel said the group hopes to help developing countries by designing a more cost-effective, energy-efficient means of delivering the popular drink. The ESW smoothie cart would replace carts currently in use, which are gas-powered and don't last as long.

Golterman added, "We want to get people thinking about sustainability-related issues. If someone sees our solar smoothie cart on the street, we hope that this would generate some meaningful thought about the practical uses of solar energy."

Established in 2002, ESW is comprised of students, faculty and professionals who are dedicated to building a more sustainable world for current and future generations. This involves working together on campus, community and international projects and educating communities about sustainability as a broad topic.

Students interested in joining the project team can contact Golterman at

Last Updated May 12, 2016