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A Senior Student Design Project in Marine and Coastal Environment Monitoring

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Tech Session

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.101.1 - 23.101.13

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Paper Authors


Radian G Belu Drexel University (Tech.)

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Dr. Radian Belu is Assistant Professor within the Engineering Technology (ET) program - Drexel University, Philadelphia. He is holding the second position as Research Assistant Professor at Desert Research Institute – Renewable Energy Center, Reno, Nevada. Before joining to the Drexel University Dr. Belu hold faculty and research positions at universities and research institutes in Romania, Canada and United States. He also worked for several years in industry as a project manager and senior consultant. He has taught and developed undergraduate and graduate courses in electronics, power systems, control and power electronics, electric machines, instrumentation, radar and remote sensing, numerical methods and data analysis, space and atmosphere physics, and physics. His research interests included power system stability, control and protection, renewable energy system analysis, assessment and design, power electronics and electric machines for wind energy conversion, radar and remote sensing, wave and turbulence simulation, measurement and modeling, numerical modeling, electromagnetic compatibility and engineering education. During his career Dr. Belu published several papers in referred journals and in conference proceedings in his areas of the research interests. He has also been PI or co-PI for various research projects United States and abroad in power systems analysis and protection, load and energy demand forecasting and analysis, renewable energy analysis, assessment and design, turbulence and wave propagation, radar and remote sensing, instrumentation, atmosphere physics, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education.

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Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University (Tech.)

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Dr. Ciobanescu Husanu is Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Technology at Drexel University. She received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and also a M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering. Her research interest is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels and plasma assisted combustion. Dr. Husanu has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past 8 years she gained experience in teaching ME and ET courses in both quality control and quality assurance areas as well as in thermal-fluid, energy conversion and mechanical areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development.

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A Senior Student Design Project in Marine and Costal Environment MonitoringThe projects are a valuable component of the science and engineering education. The designexperience develops the students’ lifelong learning skills, self-evaluations, self-discovery, andpeer instruction in the design’s creation, critique, and justification. Students learn to understandthe manufacturer data sheets, application notes, and technical manuals. The experience, whichwould be difficult to complete individually, gives the students a sense of satisfaction and theaccomplishment that is often lacking in many engineering courses, using traditional teachingapproaches. Furthermore, the design experience motivates student learning and develops skillsrequired in industry. The use of computer software packages for simulation and modeling toverify concepts and compare the results, giving the students additional skills necessary in thepresent day industrial settings. This paper discusses the development of a student project inmarine and costal environment monitoring. The project involves a team of final yearundergraduate students at our engineering technology program. A simple, low cost wirelesssensor network (WSN) with inherently long operation lifetime, developed based on low costsensor nodes is proposed in this project. The sensor node is powered by a hybrid solar/PV andmicro-wind power system with super-capacitor and batteries as backup units. The proposedsensing platform has the potential to be used as distributed sensing device to deploy in highdensity to give high spatial and high temporal water quality data. The proposed WSN is designedfor monitoring a coastal shallow water marine environment, measuring various parameters, suchas temperature, humidity, pressure, etc. The sensor node takes the measured atmospheric andoceanographic data and sends them to the sink node using the wireless communication. Thedescription of this system, the system characteristics, performances, the buoy prototype and theuser application are presented in details. Various aspects of the educational experience areexamined such as the educational goals of the project, project organization, and outcomes.Innovative educational approaches are described such as brainstorming session and discussionwith students of high-level choices described by a decision tree, component selections,simulations and system performance and characteristics computation. In the second part of thepaper the design solution that was adopted is described in details. The adopted design solutionincludes: power electronics circuitry (DC-DC converter design and test), maximum power pointtracking (MPPT) algorithms, control strategies, battery and super-capacitor selection as energybuffers, and overall system performances. The project is a good example of multi-disciplinarycooperation as well as providing valuable hands-on experimental experience. In addition toproviding useful lessons in teamwork, component selection and project management, the projectprovides a working demonstration of wireless sensor monitoring network and energy harvestingsystem. The goal of the design project is to explore and enhance students understanding of thefundamental engineering principles, power circuit simulation capabilities, sensors andinstrumentation and environment monitoring issues, as well as hands- on demonstration ofsystem prototyping..

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