A Community Partnership to Address a Global Issue
Ben Briggs presents his work at the SUNY New Paltz Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
Mr. Denis Collet is a software designer and an inventor who lives in the Mid-Hudson Valley. His background is varied and includes both hardware and software development experience. In recent years he has focused his attention on the effects of global warming and their socio-economic impacts as well as the need for systematically monitoring and analyzing our energy production and utilization. It is a fact that there is an increasing demand for sustainable energy resources. While there has been a proliferation of manufacturers and suppliers of wind, solar and geothermal products and systems, there has been a lag and a gap in providing low cost tools and affordable services to support the renewable energy industry.
Based on this simple premise, Mr. Collet initially approached Faramarz Vaziri and at a later time Michael Otis, both from the SUNY New Paltz Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, with the idea that the engineering department is strategically positioned to address the needs of the industry locally with global implications. Students could prepare themselves for emersion in this exciting growth industry and employ their creativity and talents to develop low cost engineering solutions to support the transformation of how energy is produced and managed.
To that end, several students agreed to collaborate on a joint effort that Dr. Vaziri and Mr. Collet had proposed for their senior design project. The objective was to integrate a set of low-cost components to provide a data acquisition, conversion and logging system for a solar and geothermal system. The project was ambitions and was redefined into a set of tasks that could be completed independently within a realistic timeframe aligned with the academic calendar.
From left to right, Michael Otis, Ben Briggs, Denis Collet and Dr. Faramarz Vaziri discuss several aspects of this interesting project.
Benjamin Briggs, a SUNY New Paltz engineering student, successfully completed one of the critical components of the system as an intern last semester. Ben was able to develop a power monitoring prototype by integrating a set of low-cost components, a commonly available microprocessor, power monitoring IC, and real time clock with an LCD display. One of the unique features of this prototype is the ability to capture direction of current flow in the A/C circuit. Integration of time, power utilization, and direction are necessary for analysis of solar system performance. Through recording of this information over time, a profile of how energy is being produced and utilized can be generated. This will be useful in determining and moderating system and energy use.