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Online Renewable Energy Facility for Supporting a Newly Developed Energy and Environmental Systems Technology Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Curriculum and Facility Developments for Innovative Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1008.1 - 25.1008.18



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Paper Authors


Abul K. M. Azad Northern Illinois University

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Abdul Azad is a Professor with the Technology Department of Northern Illinois University. He has a Ph.D. in control and systems engineering and M.Sc. and B.Sc. in electronics engineering. He is in academics for 15+ years and his research interests include remote laboratories, mechatronic systems, adaptive/intelligent control, mobile robotics, and educational research. In these areas, Azad has more than 100 referred journal and conference papers, edited books, and book chapters. So far, he has attracted around $1.5 million of research and development grants from various national and international funding agencies. He is a member of the editorial board for a number of professional journals as well as an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Online Engineering. He is active with various professional organizations and has served as Chair and Co-chairs of numerous conferences and workshops, in addition to serving on the program committees of around 30 international conferences. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and ISA and a member of ASEE, IET, and CLAWAR.

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Clifford R. Mirman Northern Illinois University

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Clifford R. Mirman received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991. From 1991 until 1999, he was a faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wilkes University. He is currently the Chair of the Department of Technology at NIU. His research areas are CAD, finite-element-analysis, and kinematics, both securing grants and writing publications. Mirman is actively involved in ASEE and SME.

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Avinash Varma Gadiraju

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Mr. Gadiraju obtained his Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Andhra University in Vishakapatnam, India. He moved to USA, in 2009, in pursuit of his M.Sc. degree with the Northern Illinois University. He has received his M.Sc. degree in Computer Science, in 2011. While at NIU he was working as a Graduate Assistant and developed a number of web applications for Internet accessible remote laboratories. He is currently working as a web developer for Ray Allen Inc., a Chicago based software company. His areas of interest are web designing, iphone apps and Search Engine Optimization. He had a profound experience in building websites and optimizing them with the search engines.

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Chester D. Kolodziej Freedom Field Renewable Energy, Inc.

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Chester D. Kolodziej is the Executive Director of Freedom Field Renewable Energy, Inc. His 35 years of experience in manufacturing, technology, and distribution spans a broad range of renewable energy, nanomaterials, RFID, and carbon fiber technologies. Kolodziej has worked with multiple start-ups and has consulted for companies such as Advanced Composite Industries, RockWind LLC, Atometrics Micro-Machining, Wanxiang Energy, and Materials Modification, Inc. His recent peer-review experience includes committees for the 21st Century Jobs Fund for the State of Michigan, the National Science Foundation, the Development Capital Network (Phase II), and the Fast Pitch Business Plans for the State of Illinois. He serves on the Board of Directors of three NFPs focused on renewable energy and efficiency technologies, and is a recent graduate of the NREL Golden Colorado’s EnergyExec program. He also consults for the regional economic development agency regarding CleanTech opportunities. Recently he was a speaker at the International Bio Energy Conference in Lidkoping, Sweden and a guest of their local government. His primary interests are in commercial applications of industrial technologies and potential company growth issues, and STEM education on the Community College level. He received his M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University and his B.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.

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ASEE Annual Conference 2012 San Antonio, USA Online Renewable Energy Facility for Supporting a Newly Developed Energy and Environmental Systems Technology ProgramThis paper is reporting a case of work-in-progress. The Technology Department of XX University(XXU) has developed a new program in Energy and Environmental Systems Technology (EEST). Theprogram has started to offer from fall 2011. The program is an outcome of collaboration between XXUand a number of 2-year colleges around the region. The major focus is in two areas- a) Courses from 2-year colleges are articulated within the EEST program and b) Via XXU, 2-year colleges will have anonline access to a large set of renewable energy data for their course offerings.The EEST program addresses the growing fields of energy conservation and renewable energyproduction. The students will learn new and emerging energy areas such as bio-based fuels, alternativeenergy applications, and energy auditing. The EEST program will provide students with a wide range ofprofessional skills in the areas of energy and environmental systems, thus preparing them for a variety ofcareer possibilities after graduation.To support the experimental part of the program a number of laboratory facilities has been development.In addition, an arrangement has made with a regional renewable energy solutions center for online dataaccess and repository. The center is called Freedom Field (FdF) and the concept of FdF is based onintegration of various renewable energy sources while providing a platform to study the effectiveness ofthese sources while fostering renewable energy education in the region ( FdF has five energy sources- solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, bio-fuel, vertical wind turbine, andhorizontal wind turbine. The heat energy are used for space heating when all the electric energy sourcesare integrated together and are used for operating the electric load of the FdF facility. The FdF isconnected with the electricity utility company (ComEd) grid and can supply surplus energy to the grid.The whole process (within the FdF) is managed and controlled by a General Electric (GE) hardware andsoftware system. The system collects data that includes energy collection rate, energy flow at variouspoints, energy consumption, and environmental conditions and stores these on a local server. The GEsystem can be accessed and controlled over the web and has a potential to control the FdF facility as aliving experimental system (both of XXU and 2-year colleges). As an initial step towards full web-basedcontrol, a provision has been made to transfer daily collected data to a XXU server. The data areprocessed and available via a web portal for visual display as well as download to a local PC for useranalysis ( Students and faculty has access to the web portal and with theguidance of a faculty students are able to use the data for their courses.The web portal is a software environment that has been designed and developed to execute the transfer ofdata as well as their visualization and download. This involves converting the GE data format to MSSQL format, check for data integrity and outliers, developing SQL server database, interactive datavisualization provision, data download option, password security for user and administrable access, usermanagement along with the environment user statistics. The interactive data visualization part isimplemented using Fusion Charts API that can take either XML or JSON data as input.The paper will be divided into four parts. The first part of the paper will discuss about the EEST programas well as extent of collaboration with 2-year colleges. The second part will describe the FdF and itsavailable facilities and systems. The third part will illustrate the data transfer mechanism, details of datatransformation, its visualization and download, and user management. The fourth and final part of thepaper will describe the potential of web-accessible control of the FdF facility and its use for livelaboratory experiments to support the EEST program.

Azad, A. K. M., & Mirman, C. R., & Gadiraju, A. V., & Kolodziej, C. D. (2012, June), Online Renewable Energy Facility for Supporting a Newly Developed Energy and Environmental Systems Technology Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21765

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