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Zapotec Welcomes UMass Lowell Students for the Summer
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Zapotec Welcomes UMass Lowell Students for the Summer image

Niranjana Jagadeesan and Maria French have joined the Zapotec team this summer through the MassCEC’s Clean Energy Internship Program. Both students are currently pursuing a graduate degree in Renewable Energy Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML), where they will concentrate their studies on solar energy.

Niranjana Jagadeesan

Niranjana earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa in 2016. Niranjana was first exposed to the renewable energy industry while working towards her master’s degree. She grew passionate about solar energy and its potential to help mitigate the negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels. “It didn’t take long for me to realize what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: pursue a career in solar energy,” says Niranjana.

Niranjana is now one year into the Renewable Energy Engineering program at UML. After completing courses on grid-connected and off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, Niranjana decided to apply for a MassCEC internship with Zapotec. She felt that interning at a solar engineering firm would be a great opportunity for her to apply what she has learned in the classroom to real projects in the field. While at Zapotec, Niranjana hopes to improve on the technical skills that are required of solar design engineers. She’s eager to learn how to design custom solar PV systems based on each property’s unique features. Specifically, Niranjana wants to focus on learning about the interconnection of solar PV systems to the electric grid, including the protection and safety requirements of the National Electrical Code.

“Learning about and working with solar energy has been an enriching experience so far,” says Niranjana. “I find new clean energy technology to be fascinating.  It is the advancement of the clean energy industry that motivates me each day.”

Maria French

Maria graduated from Robert Morris University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2018. During her time at Robert Morris, Maria realized she wanted to be a part of the clean energy industry after graduation, so she decided to tailor her academic experience to focus on sustainability and renewable technologies. For example, in 2015, she traveled with her classmates to Germany to learn about the country’s sustainability initiatives. “It was inspiring to see firsthand how a country could obtain 40 percent of their power needs from renewable resources,” says Maria. “This experience was part of my motivation to help the United States integrate more renewables into its energy mix.”

Currently, Maria is working towards a M.S. in Renewable Energy Engineering from UML and is expected to graduate in December 2019. Maria has focused much of her coursework on solar energy and is excited to have the opportunity to intern with Zapotec, where she will gain hands on experience. She is eager to learn more about the solar design process both in the office and during site visits. By the end of her internship, Maria hopes to have a firm grasp on the tasks required to move a solar project from start to finish.

Maria believes that solar is just one part of the solution to the climate crisis. “I believe in a sustainable lifestyle with my whole self,” says Maria. “Not only do I work it, I try to live it to the best of my ability. I want to help take the United States to the next level of renewable energy production and witness the transition away from fossil fuels in my lifetime.”


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