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Ascent Solar, a Colorado maker of “thin film photovoltaic” solar panels, has announced San Diego State University will be one of six schools nationwide to participate in its Innovative Design Competition, which will run through the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

Participant teams, consisting of student and professor groups, will explore and develop new uses for the lightweight, flexible solar panels produced by Ascent. During the contest, teams will assemble working prototypes of portable power applications.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with talented students, from engineering schools across the country, who recognize the transformational aspect of our technology,” said Ron Eller, Ascent’s president and CEO in a press release. “We are giving teams a chance to develop novel, real world applications for portable solar technology.”

Three winning teams will receive cash prizes of $3,000 to $10,000, with the first-place team being flown to Ascent headquarters, where they’ll tour the facility and have a chance to apply for internships with the company.

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