Engineering team takes 'iTrack' innovation to DC

· 2 min read

Engineering team takes ‘iTrack’ innovation to DC

Group seeks online votes in national competition
Associate Professor Mahmoud Alahmad, Katie Gilg, Yueye Peng and Sameena Khan.
Courtesy photo
Associate Professor Mahmoud Alahmad, Katie Gilg, Yueye Peng and Sameena Khan.

A team of UNL Durham School and Computer and Electronics Engineering students is traveling to Washington, D.C., later this month to compete in the Environmental Protection Agency’s “People, Prosperity, and the Planet” P3 student competition at the National Sustainable Design Expo.

The P3 competition takes place with the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival, with 100,000 visitors expected. The Nebraska Engineering team is seeking votes for their online video in a People’s Choice award category.

The College of Engineering entry is among more than 40 P3 teams that won EPA grants of up to $90,000 to conduct sustainability research. Teams selected for 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 iTrack 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 entry demonstrates a centralized technology as part of a comprehensive approach to locating and monitoring energy consumption in buildings to conserve resources, said Mahmoud “Moe” Alahmad, associate professor of architectural engineering.

“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,” he 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 United States. With iTrack, our UNL team aims to reduce that.”

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