June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.565.1 - 22.565.23
Energy Harvesting for Engineering Educators Engineering education should include preparing the student not only for employmentopportunities and research currently in demand, but also for those fields and technological areasthat are emerging in the near and distant future. This paper serves to inform engineeringeducators about the new and exciting field of energy harvesting such that the subject may beintroduced to students who will soon enter industry or academia. An example of its use withsenior-level engineering undergraduate and graduate students is then presented. This effort is tosupport the hypothesis that exposing students to new and upcoming engineering fields, such asenergy harvesting, has the potential to plant a seed of inspiration in our students, growing theirinterest, excitement and dedication to engineering. Energy harvesting is an emerging technological field with potential to find its way into inthe everyday life of the public. It is a broad field generally defined as the capture and conversionof ambient energy such as wind into electrical energy to be stored and used. A sub-category ofenergy harvesting is energy scavenging, which involves capturing ambient energy that is notregularly predictable with ease, available in short spurts over long periods of time, and wouldotherwise go unused and lost as waste heat or noise. The rapid growth of smart electronic deviceshas placed a large demand on rechargeable batteries, which are the default power supplyconsidered in most product design. Additionally, industry seeks to explore sustainable poweralternatives due to the increasing cost of fossil fuels and their growing political andenvironmental limitations. The push for renewable sources of energy over the past severaldecades has resulted in advancements of solar, wind and fuel cell technologies on large scales.Energy harvesting expands upon this work while focusing on numerous, small-scale devicesoften networked with sensors, such as solar powered gas pipeline monitoring or helicopter rotormonitoring powered through the vibrations of flight. In conjunction with an overview of the field, the paper includes an exploration ofpossible uses, types, and combinations of energy harvesters by a group of senior-levelengineering undergraduates and graduate students at two universities. The students collaborateon a joint project to innovatively capture energy from the environment to power sensors andtransmitters which detect cracks in bridges in an automated and high-fidelity fashion, replacingmanual inspections. This project exemplifies the energy harvesting field as an excitingeducational tool useful for preparing students for work in industry. Furthermore, the explorationpresented in this paper seeks to demonstrate the integration of emerging technology studies inundergraduate curriculum while the students develop a suite of concepts to power healthmonitoring systems on various structures in varied environmental conditions. This explorationillustrates the energy harvesting field and its potential as an inspirational and educational tool forindustry.
Dierks, E. C., & Weaver, J. M., & Wood, K. L., & Crider, K., & Jensen, D. D. (2011, June), Energy Harvesting for Engineering Educators Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17846
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