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Student team debuts solar invention at Ariz. state capitol

April 02, 2013

Three ASU Preparatory Academy sophomores participating in ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) "Make Your Ideas Happen Workshop" visited Arizona’s state capitol on March 27 to debut their contribution to solar innovation.

The event celebrated the breakthroughs of Scottsdale-based research and development company Monarch Power and featured recognition by Governor Jan Brewer of solar innovation and growing manufacturing jobs in Arizona.

Led by "Make Your Ideas Happen Workshop" instructor Richard Filley and Monarch Power CEO Joe Hui, the team introduced the concept of using power generated by Monarch Power’s Lotus solar energy collector to create an alternative energy source for vending machines. In partnership with the China Mist Tea Company, the team plans on finalizing their idea over the course of the semester and use any proceeds from the project to benefit the MPower Foundation  and the new Startup Lab student club at ASU Preparatory Academy. Filley says the team will be touring China Mist Tea facilities in the near future as they continue seeking advice from company executives.

“This project is a great example of ASU partnering with the ASU Preparatory Academy and local small businesses to the benefit of all,” Filley said. “Along with the collaboration of Monarch Power and China Mist Teas, the team will have a number of resources at their disposal as the project comes to fruition.”

The students chose to call the project the Lotus Flower Power project, paying homage to their all-female group and a play on Monarch’s Lotus technology that resembles a flower when in use.

The team is comprised of Ciara Earl, Kassie Garcia and Amanda Vaillancourt, with WiSE advisor Robyn McKay and CTI student Nicole Deopere as mentors.

“These young women are very excited about this project and are very bright,” Filley said. “CTI’s mission is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in students who are eager to think of ideas and make them happen. This workshop empowers young students to do just that.”

The Make Workshop was launched in 2013 with the Lotus Flower Power team being the inaugural group to go through the program.

High school students from across the valley can participate in CTI’s "Make Your Ideas Happen Workshops," taking place in eight-week periods in the fall and spring semesters on the ASU Polytechnic campus. The workshop allows for high school students interacting with ASU MAKE class students to make a new product or create a solution to a problem in a structured and mentored environment. CTI faculty and staff serve as resources for students as they develop their ideas and take them to market.

Filley also announced recently that Ciara Earl, Kassie Garcia and Amanda Vaillancourt were each named Make ambassadors, earning each of them a $500 scholarship to attend the upcoming Startup Academy, a prestigious week-long summer camp offered as a part of the CTI Summer Experience. Each student will represent the Make classes and program at events and encourage other high school students to enroll in the High School Make Workshop next Fall.

For information about the high school "Make Your Ideas Happen Workshop," go to Information about the CTI Summer Experience can be found at

written by Sydney B. Donaldson, CTI