To showcase the new ECE building, three undergraduate students designed and constructed a model of the building to present at Engineering Open House 2014.
Built primarily from several kinds of wood and acrylic plastic sheets, the model is built to scale with 1 inch equaling 8 feet. Students, faculty, and visitors at EOH were impressed by the model, and the students who made it hope to display it in the ECE building this fall.
As an homage to ECE’s target of net-zero energy, the model is designed with built-to-scale solar panels on its roof and a larger solar panel on its side. Combined, they provide power to the lights, circuits, and microcontroller, the small computer that allows programming for the lights.
Because of the indoor lighting at EOH, batteries were required during the event. But the solar panels were wired to charge the batteries when the model was powered off.
“Net-zero energy is theoretically achievable in the model if it was powered off with the solar panels attached to the batteries for a long period of time,” said Thomas Navidi, a sophomore in electrical engineering.
Navidi came up with the idea of a net-zero energy model of the building in the fall, and construction began in January. Navidi’s main tasks were to design the circuits and lights and wire them between the microcontroller and the model.
He recruited Kavish Munjal, a sophomore in computer engineering, and Guillermo Acevedo, a sophomore in civil engineering, to help him. Munjal’s coding made it possible to use a remote to activate different sets of lights (including LED lights) on the model, and Acevedo helped read the ECE building plans, come up with the scale, and identify the proper materials for the model.
The team used balsa wood sheets and rods and clear acrylic plastic sheets to make most of the model, the sheets representing the building’s many windows. The wood pieces were colored with spray paint and attached with wood glue and super glue. A large piece of plywood functioned as the base, and glue was used to attach green carpet, walkways made from crushed rocks, scale model trees, bushes, and students and faculty members.
“Approximately 200 hours were contributed on the project by all team members,” Navidi said.
The model was well received at EOH and garnered attention to the ECE building’s features, particularly its solar panels and plans for energy sustainability.
“I heard a lot of positive feedback during EOH, and I am very proud to have worked on the model,” Navidi said. “Hopefully, it will see many more years on display.”