Nebraska Engineering students’ energy-saving iTrack innovation seeks votes, travels to Washington
A team of UNL Durham School and Computer and Electronics Engineering students travels to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Environmental Protection Agency, “People, Prosperity, and the Planet” P3 student competition at the National Sustainable Design Expo , April 25-27. The P3 competition takes place with the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival, where 100,000 attendees are expected. The Nebraska Engineering team seeks votes for their online video ( http://go.unl.edu/itrack) in a People’s Choice award category.
The UNL College of Engineering entry is among more than 40 P3 teams that won EPA grants of up to $90,000 to conduct sustainability research this year. Teams selected for 2014 P3 grants will display their work at the Washington Convention Center and created quick “elevator pitch” videos to promote their projects online; a $1,000 prize goes to the team with the most likes for its video.
In their video, the Nebraska Engineering students—Yueye Peng, Katie Gilg and Sameena Khan--describe the iTrack device as a “real-time energy node locator for the built environment.” This technology can be deployed at a building’s electrical panel to remotely locate where electricity is being used.
Their 2014 entry demonstrates a centralized technology as part of a comprehensive approach to locating and monitoring energy consumption in buildings to conserve resources, said Associate Professor Mahmoud “Moe” Alahmad. “iTrack is the first integrated hardware/software that can remotely monitor and locate every active energy node without sensors at each node—making it more efficient to operate and less expensive to implement,” Alahmad said
In 2011, Alahmad’s students entered P3 with their iSAVE project, which monitored appliances at each outlet. This year, his team focused on centralizing and coordinating the electrical use information and controls at the system level, using reflectometry principles.
“Through reflectometry we track the unique load and distance for each appliance, and can immediately communicate the usage information remotely so that home or business owners can make better decisions about how energy is used in their buildings,” Alahmad said. “According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings use more than 40 percent of the energy in the U.S., and with iTrack our UNL team aims to reduce that.”
In their video, the Nebraska Engineering students are eager for iTrack to be “coming soon to an electrical panel near you.” The team invites viewing of the iTrack video at http://go.unl.edu/itrack; adding a ‘Like’ for the video will help them in the People’s Choice voting in the P3 competition.
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