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Three LU engineering seniors take top honors

Three Lamar University senior electrical engineering seniors took top honors in the Annual Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Design Contest.

Hall, Morgan and EadsTaking first place were team leader Henry Eads, a graduate of Westbrook High School in Beaumont, and Max Morgan, also a graduate of Westbrook H.S., and Aaron Hall, a graduate of Spurger High School. The three are enrolled in the Senior Design course taught by Harley Myler, Mitchell Chair of Engineering, and the competition they entered and the subsequent $2,000 prize they won was a result of their senior design project for the course.

The Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET) in Austin sponsors the annual student design contest in cooperation with IEEE Region 5.

CCET is a consortium of electric utilities, high technology firms, research companies, and university researchers committed to advancing the power market by increasing the reliability, security, power quality, and efficiency of electric power. Their product focus has been on "smart grid" technologies particularly at the distribution and end user segments. The problems posed to the students are real ones faced by the electric utility industry that may be applied in the field as practical solutions. Thus, the students have the satisfaction of knowing that they are working on a solution to problem faced by the electric utilities and/or the green technology industry. 

Unlike previous years where designs were focused on specific pieces of equipment (e.g., devices to predict transformer failure), in the 2011-2012 student design contest student teams were asked to design a power system enhancement to complement an existing wind farm. Student designs were asked to add battery storage and solar photovoltaic arrays, and consider the adequacy of supporting infrastructure (e.g., substations, inverters,) to improve the load factor of utility scale renewable energy to the grid and evaluate overall economics.

The students’ project was named I.C.A.R.U.S. for Integration and Control of Alternative Resources for Utility Systems. The students submitted a paper detailing a hypothetical expansion for the King Mountain Wind Farm near McCamey, Texas. The expansion incorporated solar arrays and battery storage. Ultimately, the design served to increase load factor and facilitate more reliable and consistent power production.

The design included a complete operations algorithm to simplify and optimize management and control as well as ensure safety. The algorithm considered several operational scenarios, including normal and emergency conditions. In addition, the design took into account various economic considerations to determine the overall feasibility of the project. The data will also assist in various decisions throughout the project, including the choice of equipment and the decision on whether or not to include battery storage.