Engineering Projects

Dr. Saeed Jafarzadeh

Home Electric Energy Management System

Have you noticed the recent trend where manufacturers try to make every gadget and gizmo “smart”? That is possible through what we technically call Embedded Systems. Once you learn about it, you can be creative and transform everything you are dealing with on a daily basis. That’s what this program is all about. But to practice what you learn, you will build a home energy management system. I will tell a bit more about it.

Have you ever been interested in finding out just how much energy your TV, computer, coffee machine or any other appliance are using? In this project you will build an advanced network that does such monitoring for you. Besides, it can manage energy consumptions by these units in a household in a smart way. For instance, you can set your dishwasher to wash the dishes only if its energy usage costs you $2. Or you can set your printer off whenever your computer is off. Or you can dim your lights down when the washer or dryer are in use. All automatically, of course! This has often been done using a central station that monitors the consumption by all the other appliances and decides how to adjust consumption on each appliance according to a set of predefined rules. But we will uniquely design a network that has no central station. The appliances will communicate and make a decision together!

There are two rules to this summer program. First, you will build everything from scratch. Second, you will have fun doing it. If you plan to join this program, prepare to learn a lot and enjoy a new dimension of your creativity.

Dr. Karim Salehpoor

Experimental Investigation of the Effect of the Atmospheric CO2 on Global Warming

Increased level of atmospheric CO2 has been considered as a cause of the Earth atmosphere’s rising average temperature, referred to as global warming, over the last century.  This, in turn, is known to have resulted in climate change as well as severe drought at many places on the Earth.  While drought has had a severe impact on agriculture industry and food supply, global warming is also considered as the cause for rise in oceans’ water level which can threaten human life on many small islands if it is not controlled.

Participants in the REVS UP 2016 project will collaborate in a hands-on project to build a set up and run tests to investigate the effect of the atmospheric CO2 level on the atmosphere’s temperature.

Dr. Krishna Prasai

Thermal properties of a solid material at room temperature

Characterization of materials is essential for successful material design and engineering of nearly every area of industrial practice including aerospace, automotive, biotechnology, electronics, energy and environmental engineering. In this short-term summer project, we will focus on investigating the thermal properties of at least two different solids. In particular, we will investigate thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity of these materials. Thermal conductivity determines a material’s ability to transfer heat while specific heat describes its capacity to store energy. Measurement of such thermal properties also provides important information about the purity, composition, structure and thermal tolerance of the material. Since thermal properties of a material change with temperature and impurity present in the material, it is possible to tune these properties by blending more than one material. A set of comprehensive apparatus of heat experiments will be used for all measurements. This apparatus is well equipped with a control unit with Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) control system and multiple display units for different parameters such as temperature, pressure, voltage, and current with high-precision timing units. In this project, students will learn to calibrate and use a modern device for room temperature characterization of different materials. They will also learn to analyze the data using suitable analytical tools and draw appropriate conclusions. The goal of this project is to provide a solid foundation for students’ long-term research involvement in one of the most exciting and widespread fields of material science.

Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis

Smart and Automatic Irrigation System using Wireless Sensor Network

Would you like to have a smarter (wireless-sensor driven) and automatic watering system? Supplies of good-quality water for agriculture are expected to decrease in several regions, including San Joaquin Valley, due to climate change. Hence, there is a need for a smart irrigation system that can save a lot of the water. This system would have the ability to apply water directly where it is needed, therefore saving water and preventing excessive water runoff and leaching.

In this research project, students will learn how an irrigation system works and how to:

* Use and program mechatronics: micro-sensors (e.g. soil moisture, solar radiation, air temperature and humidity) and micro-electronics

* Develop a wireless sensor network

* Develop and build a smart irrigation system: hardware (pump, valves etc.)  and software

* Develop an automatic (Fuzzy logic) controller (the controller will automatically start the pump and predict the irrigation duration, based on sensor readings)

Dr. Dayanand Saini

Removing Hardness of Oilfield Produced Water

Local oil industry injects large volumes of steam for recovering viscous and heavy oil from numerous oilfields located in the Kern County. For generating steam, industry mainly relies on oilfield-produced water, a by-product of oil production process. The oilfield-produced water often contains calcium and magnesium ions which form salts that are not very soluble. However, prior to use of oilfield-produced water for steam generation; its harness needs to be removed. Hardness is a term that is used to describe the amounts of calcium and magnesium present in water.

This precipitation of calcium and magnesium, a process termed as scaling, on steam generator’s (boiler) surface during boiling of water interferes with the heat transfer occurring at the metal/water interface. Over time, scaling causes a reduction in boiler’s steam generation efficiency while decaying the boiler’s metal.

Ion exchange based water softening processes are the most popular ways for removing the hardness of oilfield-produced water. They rely on use of granular substances called ion exchange resins for removing water’s hardness. Ion exchange units, containing these resins, remove calcium and magnesium or in other words make water soft by replacing these scale causing cations with sodium.

In this project, a laboratory scale ion exchange unit will be used for evaluating the efficiencies of several commercially available ion exchange resins. Students will have an opportunity to run water hardness removal experiments using representative samples of local oilfield-produced water while learning the basic chemistry and physical principles behind ion exchange and several other water softening processes.

In the ion exchange process, eventually a point is reached when no more calcium or magnesium can be removed from the incoming (or feed) water. The ion exchange resin at this point is said to be “spent” and must be regenerated. Often, it requires use of fresh “regeneration brine” for recovering the “spent” resins which is a costly affair. In the project, students will also be introduced to a method that uses oilfield-produced water itself for in-house production of “regeneration brine”. This approach may result in making current ion exchange based water softening processes more economical.

At the occasions of REVS-UP program’s inauguration and final research poster presentation, participating students will have opportunity to interact with an oil and water treating specialist at Chevron for learning more about the use of ion exchange based water softening process in local oil industry.

Travis Moore

Introduction to Aircraft Design

The design of aircraft is a complex, multifaceted process which incorporates knowledge from many disciplines of science and engineering. The primary aspects of aircraft design include aerodynamics, propulsion, controls, and structure. Participants in this project will learn the fundamental concepts and principles critical to the design of aircraft. They will follow the engineering design process to design, manufacture, and test a radio controlled aircraft. They will gain experience using computer aided manufacturing tools to fabricate the frame as well as mechatronics to code Arduino microcontrollers and XBee radio modules.