ALFRED, N.Y. - The "Eagle Cam" at Washington, D.C.'s National Arboretum has become a worldwide hit over the last week- millions have logged on to view the bald eagle nesting pair "Mr. President" and "The First Lady" and their growing family.
And they're able to do so thanks to the hard work of students and faculty at Alfred State College.
Electrical Trades Department Chair Jeffrey Stevens says the school has had a partnership with the arboretum for eight years, giving students the opportunity to travel there and work on different renewable energy systems. But something different happened on one of those visits last year.
"They were looking to explore ways in which they could power a set of cameras for viewing some eagles that they were very hopeful they would return to a nest that they started last year," says Stevens.
Students came up with the idea of using a portable trailer for solar energy that could be moved and put to different use once the camera event was done. And once they returned to campus, the folks at the arboretum asked them to put that plan into action.
"I think the amazing part is that within a 3-week period, the students and I and a number of faculty involved as well conceived, designed and built the trailer and then installed it down in Washington," Stevens says. "That's what's powering the cameras right now."
He says the students- Ethan Yanda of Wayland, Thomas Wzientek of West Seneca, Justin King of Uniondale, Oliver Jackson of Williamsville, and Mike Lee of Brooklyn are watching with bated breath to make sure the system works.
"The system has done exactly what we designed it to do and it's outperforming those expectations so we're very very happy about that," he says.
Stevens says it's been amazing to see the amount of attention the project has gotten, especially knowing that it's their work that's keeping the cameras rolling.
"One of the most exciting parts of the project for me as a teacher was to be able to sit back and watch my students instruct the facilities personnel on how to operate and manage this trailer," Stevens says. "They're able to see that their efforts have afforded them worldwide notation and that they can indeed make a difference and impact the world."
The students worked under the supervision of Stevens, instructor Sean Kelley, and Associate Professor Brad Thompson.