Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology Makes an Investment in Knowledge with Two SmartflowersOct 14, 2021
Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” and what is a more appropriate investment for our future than training students for a career in green energy? The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) installed two Smartflowers on their campus courtyard in the Fall of 2020. The courtyard, located in Boston’s historic South End district, is also home to a plaque that explains the significance and function of the Smartflowers to passers-by and members of the community.
Benjamin Franklin Institute learned about the Smartflower through a board member who recognized the connection between the product and the college’s core value to integrate sustainability into all curricula offerings. The President of BFIT, Dr. Aisha Francis, connected with several organizations on this issue area, including Smartflower, and worked with the company to bring its innovative technology to campus to expand BFIT’s program concentrations in renewable energy technology. “Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology seeks to build upon established and emerging aspects of the solar industry through our programs, curricula, and related projects. Solar innovations are a key element of responsible development and having Smartflowers on-site dovetails nicely with the sustainable programming we deliver at BFIT,” said Dr. Aisha Francis, President and CEO of BFIT.
Bringing sustainability to the BFIT curriculum is a journey that the institute has embarked on enthusiastically, with 90% of all their programs having some form of sustainability integrated into them. The introduction of the Smartflowers have also played a large role in shaping programs like the Energy Technology program and the Mechatronics program, which involve close study of the two units.
Students were even able to watch and participate in the Smartflower installations! As part of the Renewable Energy Technology concentration, students can learn more about solar energy, what makes the Smartflower tick, and how to provide maintenance for these unique systems. “The Smartflower’s advanced robotics and increased efficiency give our students a unique opportunity to learn about solar innovations. We don’t want to only lecture at our students, but give them a real-world, hands-on experience to become leaders in the renewable energy and design workforce,” said Dr. Marvin Loiseau, Dean of Academic Affairs at BFIT.
As to how the residents of the South End have reacted to the new solar system in their community? It’s been sparking up conversations left and right! The two Smartflowers are in a high-traffic area of the community that sees buses, cars, and pedestrians pass by every day. “Everyone is looking at the Smartflower… it’s so important for the community to understand what it is and for them to think about how Smartflower and solar energy can work for them,” said Dr. Loiseau.
The twin Smartflowers have also introduced another big talking point for the South End community: how innovative technology can and must intersect with historic preservation. Founded in 1908, the history of the BFIT campus building is clear to all who see it. However, just because the history of a building should be maintained and preserved does not mean that it cannot adopt new technologies. The installation has set an example to the rest of the South End district that there are ways to make historic buildings renewable and modern without intruding on the architecture of the building.
“This is a win-win for everyone. We’ve created an opportunity for students to get real-world experience from new technology while showing our community how to reduce energy costs, carbon emissions, and contribute to a sustainable future,” said Dr. Loiseau.
Learn more about the Smartflowers at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology at www.bfit.edu/smartflower/.
Want to read up on other Smartflower installations? Click here.