TNCC Receives $35,000 Grant for Solar-Powered Gazebo

Published: September 20, 2012

Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) has received a $35,000 grant from Dominion Virginia Power and The Dominion Foundation for a student-led project to build a solar-powered gazebo on the Hampton campus. Called GreenZebo, the project aims to educate students about alternative energy by demonstrating the efficiency and reliability of a solar powered application. The Honorable Melanie Rapp Beale, a former Virginia delegate and current External Affairs Manager for Dominion Virginia Power’s Eastern Region, presented a check to the TNCC Educational Foundation on Thursday, September 13.

The company and its charitable arm awarded roughly $1 million in higher educational partnership grants for the 2012-2013 academic year throughout Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and in targeted localities in New England, Maryland and North Carolina. Thomas Nelson is among institutions across Virginia to receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $45,000 to support projects in energy, environment and workforce development.  Patricia Taylor, TNCC’s Dean of Science, Engineering and Technology, expressed appreciation. “We are very grateful for Dominion’s support of the College’s initiatives. This is really great for our students and our efforts to educate them about the importance of being energy conscious,” she said.

Thomas Pringle, TNCC Instructor and Program Head of Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD), said the screened GreenZebo with solar panels mounted on the roof will be approximately 12 by 16 feet and will include lighting, power outlets and afford Wi-Fi access. The structure will be a common area where students and others can gather outside and still enjoy the luxury of charging their various electronic devices.

“Right now, I’m doing the background research trying to [spec out] a gazebo to order – one that the students can put together. I am also surveying sites on campus to actually place the GreenZebo,” said Pringle, noting that placement of the structure is targeted for summer 2013 pending necessary approvals.

Pringle aims to bring five to 10 CADD and Electrical Engineering Technology students on board for the project. In addition to constructing the GreenZebo, the students will interpret blueprints, install wiring, determine load requirements, assist with equipment selections and install solar panels.

In addition to Electrical Engineering Technology and CADD, TNCC offers a myriad of courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). For more information, visit


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Comment from Roy Hyle - September 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Great job everyone! – TNCC students get another super experience.