The umbrellas, which cost $1,275 each, are produced by a company called ZON Technology. The project was paid for by a student fee.
“Unlike a lot of organizations on campus, we actually have money to invest in projects that we want to do. It’s not like we just have the ideas — most people can have the ideas but they don’t happen — we have the ideas and we can make them happen,” Egan said.
Egan said the project involved many campus partners, including Information Technology Services, Carolina Dining Services, the Residence Hall Association and the Student Union.
ITS spokeswoman Kate Hash praised the efforts of the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee.
“What’s wonderful about this project (is) that it was a bit serendipitous that our CIO Chris Kielt saw the solar umbrellas at a conference and just a few weeks later an inquiry came from Charlie and RESPC. It was a natural fit for everyone and we’re honored to be a small part of the project,” Hash said in an email.
“ITS is happy to get involved in projects like this that allow technology to be used in such a fun way.”
Sophomore Tate Shanahan serves as director of social projects for the Residence Hall Association.
“The reason that RHA was interested is that one of our main goals is to improve the quality of on-campus residential life,” Shanahan said.
Egan said placing the umbrellas in the Pit and elsewhere on campus will help raise students’ awareness about sustainability efforts.
“Energy is very intangible. You can’t touch electricity, but these umbrellas will let students physically interact with solar energy on a daily basis,” Shanahan said.