Burke, an electrical engineering technology major, won first place for his poster presentation and second place for an oral presentation of his research on “Exploring Effective Techniques to Fabricate Thin Film Cells Composed of CZTS (Cu2ZnSnS4).”
The purpose of the project was to attempt to make an efficient solar cell from inexpensive and abundant materials, said Burke, 23.
“Current solar cells in use today use rare, expensive and toxic materials to achieve the efficiency that they have. Our project aims to use the materials copper, zinc, tin and sulfur or CZTS, which are all abundant, cheap and non-toxic materials,” Burke said.
“We are trying to develop a solar cell from these materials that is just as efficient as the solar cells in current use. If we are able to develop the cells to a marketable efficiency, then these cells would be significantly cheaper to produce and could possibly be the new leading standard for solar cell technology.”
Burke said he was “ecstatic” about winning the awards for his research at the conference in November. The 2006 Redan High School graduate said he has been interested in science and technology since he was a child.
“Ever since I saw my first lightning storm around the age of 5, I have been fascinated with electricity and this major allows me to explore the uses of electricity in a hands-on manner,” he said.
“I specifically enjoy the digital aspects about this field because I consider the programming like art. There’s not necessarily a wrong way to go about it.”
Following graduation this spring, Burke plans to work toward achieving a doctorate in electrical engineering.
Dr. Philip Patterson, SPSU’s biology, chemistry and physics department chair, said Burke has been active over the years in the NSBE and the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, as well as a tutor to students at area schools.
“Mr. Burke has evolved as a true leader,” Patterson said.
“He held a leadership office in the SPSU chapter of NSBE, helping to direct this student-led organization during the 2009-10 academic year. Mr. Burke is an articulate leader; he has an outstanding work ethic and great character.”
In addition, SPSU senior Nekeshia Griffin, a biology major, won third place at the conference for her oral presentation, “The Examination of the Population Growth Rates of the Redbreast and Bluegill Sunfish in Nickajack Creek.”
Griffin was selected afterward to work as an apprentice researcher with Dr. Robert Howard of NASA’s Johnson Space Center on a project of her choice next summer at NASA’s Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.