Shake Power Bank; Media Framing of the Green New Deal: Comparing Popular News Sites Across the Political Spectrum

Davis, Erika, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Momot, Michael, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Ferguson, Sean, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Energy sources, like fossil fuels, have been attributed to climate change, a topic that has been pushed to the forefront of the political discourse by activists, politicians, and the media. Both my STS and technical theses are related to the environment in different ways. The STS thesis defines the issue by highlighting the way the media has framed the discussion of climate change, while my technical thesis offers a potential alternative by creating a means to generate electricity with a purely mechanical device. The goal of this report is to understand the obstacles that are currently preventing environmental legislation from being implemented and what consumers and companies can do in the meantime to help to lessen the use of unsustainable energy sources.
The technical thesis is centered around designing a device that transforms mechanical energy, created by human motion, into electrical power with the goal of charging a battery. My capstone group’s design evolved into a handheld Shake Power Bank that is capable of charging any cell phone or device that can connect to a standard USB port. The Shake Power Bank allows the user to charge a device on the go, when another source of electricity is not available, and also helps to reduce the need for wall outlets. Such a device is a small step towards transitioning to alternative energy sources when possible; however, it is not practical to think that purely mechanical energy could completely replace fossil fuels.
The STS thesis explores how the styles of media framing of the Green New Deal can shape public opinion on the issue of climate change, specifically for those who do not diversify their news sources. Coverage of the Green New Deal from three news sites—CNN, the outlet most trusted by moderate Democrats, Fox News, the outlet most trusted by Republicans, and The Nation, a popular Progressive news outlet— were chosen in order to understand how people across the American political spectrum view climate change. Knowing that the media has influence over public opinion could provide a step toward getting climate legislation implemented, which is essential to tackle climate change. However, further research is needed to determine whether the media influences the public or if people seek out news that agrees with their opinions; regardless, the media seems to be a key component to dealing with environmental issues.
Clean energy is an important topic for engineers to understand and prioritize, due to the ability to design devices that could help mitigate the effects of climate change. Throughout this year, I have learned so much about design and research processes through my theses, which have both changed and evolved several times. Further analysis is needed for my technical thesis to optimize some design parameters, like the weight of the device; however, this was not possible due to the semester being cut short. I would like to thank my STS, technical, and academic advisors, Sean Ferguson, Michael Momot, and Gavin Garner respectively, for their help and guidance this year.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
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