QESST Establishes Community Energy Engineering Club for Latinx Youth

Achievement date: 

Researchers, faculty and staff at the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST) Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Arizona State University (ASU) have partnered with Phoenix Union High School, Alhambra Elementary School District (AESD) and the Spencer Foundation to co-design and test a sustainable, community‐centered model for a mixed‐age after‐school program that champions youth‐initiated community energy engineering—or CEE—projects.


The QESST Community Energy Engineering Club is an afterschool program that uniquely engages Latinx students at the K-12 level in energy, solar energy and PV education with a workforce development emphasis. Participants, teachers, and partners are exposed to the basic concepts underpinning solar energy and photovoltaics but also learn to place this knowledge in a context of sustainability, transdisciplinary research, conversation, economics, and importance to local communities.


Youth participating in QESST’s Community Energy Engineering Club were recruited from a single Latinx neighborhood and had the opportunity to collaborate with community stakeholders to imagine energy futures for themselves and their community. The Club is currently working with Phoenix Parks & Recreation to test three lighting designs for a neighborhood park renovation. The CEE collaboration convenes weekly meetings on participating school campuses and also hosts monthly cross‐age gatherings. The program is facilitated by two QESST Research Experience for Teachers (RET) participants with lifetime ties to the community.