New electric car charging station at Patel center

A new electric car charging station in the Patel Center for Global Solutions parking lot recently joined spots at two other charging locations as part of an initiative by the USF Student Green Energy Fund.

The fund focuses on eco-friendly campus programs, such as solar panels and the Share-A-Bull bike program.

The push to install more electric car charging stations on campus has been ongoing since 2013, according to John Pilz, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy. 

Pilz has been working alongside Roger Stern, a graduate student in medical sciences.

Their project focuses on increasing accessibility for students who drive electric cars.

Their goal was not just to add more charge spots, but also to show students that electric cars exist and they are a convenient alternative. 

The new location has one station, one plug and one parking space, in addition to the four charging stations, six plugs and eight parking spaces elsewhere on campus. 

Pilz said the project was only allowed the one spot because USF Parking and Transportation wanted to keep surrounding pay-by-space spots open.

Along with convenience and accessibility, Pilz hopes the station will allow students to learn about electric cars. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), driving an electric car can be about half the cost of driving a gas-powered vehicle. Other advantages include more stable fuel prices, fewer carbon dioxide emissions and increased government incentives.

However, electric vehicles are not without their shortcomings. The DOE pointed out a limited driving range, long recharge time and the expense and bulkiness of battery packs as challenges to owners.

Pilz said he believes there is a learning curve for those who don’t attempt to educate themselves on new technology, such as electric cars.

“There are students who are my age who have electric cars,” Pilz said. “There are students that are master’s, Ph.D. students (who) have electric cars, not because they just believe in the potential for electric cars and the benefits that they have, but they see that it’s more economical to own an electric car.”

Pilz’s inspiration for the project came from the electric car company Tesla Motors, even though he currently owns another make.

“Since Elon Musk took over and came out with his awesome ideas and his plans, I saw a lot of what I want to do in who he is and what he’s done and most importantly I recognize the practicality of electric cars,” Pilz said.

Currently, USF’s charging stations can be viewed on the website, which locates stations all over the world. 

Pilz and Stern plan to push for more charging station installation in the future.