Nick Archer ’16, a Physics major, was one of those kids who liked to take things apart.
“When I was 12 or so I received a board that had a series of circuits and switches and what-nots," he says. "I worked with it, rewired it and eventually shorted the entire thing. The thing I always kept coming back to was the power. I realized that electricity was cool.”
Now, Archer wants work on electrical grids, perhaps managing one and doing technical work in the field.
“I have learned that being in a place of power doesn’t mean I have to be stuck in an office all day,” he says. “I like working with my hands, so I will want to be out in the field a lot.”
On campus, he has worked at Information Technology Services all four years, and during the summer prior to his junior year, he helped transition into the new Center for Visual and Performing Arts.
“We set up a ton of computers that summer,” he says. “I spent some time in the Black Box room at the top of Lingle Auditorium, and they have a really powerful system up there.”
Last summer, Archer completed a six-week research experience with Assistant Professor of Physics Adam Light working with signal processing from plasma data, and he went back home to the Bahamas for part of the summer to work for Bahama Solar and Energy Company.
“I did signal processing from a data set, reading, programming and data visualization,” he says. “Back home with Bahama Solar and Energy, I did energy audits. We secured about a few sizable contracts for solar panels with high schools and large churches that wanted to reduce their energy consumption thereby reducing their electric bill.
“It seems that just now an increase exists in the solar markets. It seems that more affluent people care about the environment and setting up solar panels. I like that it is starting to grow. It’s an investment, and we have to convince people that it’s a good investment.”
Archer is especially intrigued by new technology that uses smart grids and smart grid compatible appliances.
“The price of electricity changes on a hour-to-hour basis,” he says. “Prices are low when people are at work or at school and then again during the early morning. The idea is to have washers and dryers that wait for these low points and then activate automatically. Also, you can have your solar and wind panels charging and storing energy all day to provide the power for things you do in the evening.”
Archer, a black belt in karate, plays piano and saxophone, and is trying to teach himself to play guitar.
“I like to learn things,” he says. “The best thing I do each day is to learn something, for sure. It can be anything, a word in a new language or a line of code. I love being a student. For such a long time I didn’t take learning seriously, and now I can’t ever see myself not learning. I have only acquired this love for learning since I came to Earlham. I don’t remember being excited to get to class until I came to Earlham.”