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Phone charging station pilot program underway across campus

The stress of having a low cell phone battery with no way to charge it should subside across Northeastern’s campus for the next few weeks, thanks in part to the work of one alumnus.

Last month five mobile phone charging stations from WrightGrid, a startup founded by Ryan Wright, E’09, were temporarily installed at four locations around campus for a six-week pilot program. The Northeastern community can now try out the stations and offer feedback.

“The stations are being heavily utilized,” Wright said about one week after the program launched. “The feedback so far has been very good. This high visibility is huge for us and having a partner like Northeastern is invaluable.”

The pilot program is a collaboration between WrightGrid and Notion in Motion, an initiative in the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs to help Northeastern students get their ideas off the ground. Notion in Motion looks for ideas that, among other things, engages students in a learning opportunity and creates a new technology.

“Notion in Motion received a proposal some time ago for more charging capability on campus,” explained Justin Wright, no relation, the lead EMSA fellow on the project. “And then we met Ryan last fall and it hit on so many cylinders. He’s an alumnus, he’s worked with IDEA, and he’s working with clean technology.”

There are two charging stations in the Marino Center: one on the first floor and one on the second floor near the basketball court. There is one charging station near Crossroads in the Curry Student Center, one in the International Village dining hall, and one in Snell Library near Argo Tea.

The charging stations are typically solar powered, but Ryan Wright said they were modified to be electrically powered for the pilot program so people wouldn’t to have to go outside to charge their phones in the dead of winter.

Each station has 15 lock boxes that are outfitted with three phone chargers that can accommodate 95 percent of all mobile devices including Androids and most iPhones. There are instructions for users on each station, but if anyone needs assistance Wright said there is a site manager at each location who can help.

Notion in Motion representatives is collecting feedback to see how users like the charging stations and if the stations are in good locations. People can also tweet feedback using #NotionInMotion. At the end of the pilot, Ryan Wright said Northeastern can choose to purchase the stations and make them permanent on campus.

Originally called Sol Power, WrightGrid’s mission is to supply “power on the go” where options are limited, as well as educate the public on the benefits of renewable energy sources. Ryan Wright started the business in 2012 and has received $30,000 in gap funding from IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator. WrightGrid was also a winner at the Northeast region of the CleanTech Open, the world’s largest competitive clean tech accelerator program.

“We just finished a rebranding that includes a new name and website,” Ryan Wright said. “We found that many of our competitors had words like sol, sun, charge and power in their name and we wanted something that was a little more unique, but still spoke to our same mission.”

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