Two computer science students at Missouri University of Science and Technology have received National Science Foundation funding to support their research to create a future “smart” electric power grid.
Tom Roth of St. Louis, a Ph.D. student in computer science, received the NSF’s FREEDM Systems Energy Research Consortium Graduate Fellowship for the 2012-2013 academic year. The fellowship provides $5,000 in funding for Roth’s studies.
Michael Catanzaro of St. Louis, a junior in computer science, received a $4,000 award from the FREEDM Undergraduate Research Scholars Program to support his research.
FREEDM stands for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management. The FREEDM center, established in 2008, involves seven U.S. and European universities working together to transform the nation’s power grid into a distributed system – an Internet for energy – that will speed renewable electric-energy technologies into homes and businesses across the U.S. Missouri S&T is part of the effort, which is led by the FREEDM Systems Center at North Carolina State University.
Both Roth and Catanzaro are involved in developing methods that would allow homes connected to the future smart grid to schedule energy usage to conserve power or run appliances during off-peak hours. For example, a home connected to the smart grid could decide that the refrigerator compressor turns on only after the washer has completed its spin cycle, says Dr. Bruce McMillin, a professor of computer science at Missouri S&T.
Under McMillin’s direction, Roth and Catanzaro are developing the sophisticated scheduling algorithms that would make the smart grid work. Roth is also focusing on security issues associated with the system, and Catanzaro is looking at “plug-and-play” implementation that would allow the grid to recognize appliances plugged in to the network the same way a computer recognizes a USB device when it is plugged in.
The FREEDM Systems ERC Graduate Fellowship is designed to help increase the number of outstanding and underrepresented Ph.D. students in the FREEDM Systems ERC. The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program is designed to immerse undergraduate student researchers in the culture and programs of the center.
As part of the FREEDM Systems ERC, Missouri S&T’s computer science department plays a major role in the development of distributed grid intelligence.
Missouri S&T’s participation in the FREEDM effort is led by Dr. Mariesa Crow, the Fred W. Finley Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Missouri S&T and director of the university’s Energy Research and Development Center.