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UMKC E-Save event pairs creativity with education and fun

A project known as MySmartSolar.edu, led by E-Save lab team from the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and funded by Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) , aims to educate and increase energy efficiency in urban communities.

The goal of E-Save, explained Dr. Vijay Kumar, is to promote wise energy use across the community. Kumar said the project was launched in 2011 thanks to funding from Toyota, USA.

With partial funding from a DOE Smart Grid Demonstration project, KCP&L has been working with Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts to install solar panels on the school’s rooftop. KCP&L had a goal to educate the students and community on the use of renewable energy and energy conservation as part of the smart grid project. KCP&L chose the E-Save program at UMKC to help design, promote and execute the student education .Kumar has worked with Drs. Cory Beard, Yugyung Lee and Praveen Rao in collaboration with KCP&L to come up with creative ways to teach local high school students about energy consumption.

On March 20, nine teams of students from Paseo visited UMKC to present their ideas on how to save energy in places such as old houses, schools, apartments and grocery stores.

Many teams went beyond the ordinary PowerPoint presentation and incorporated their background as art students to showcase their ideas for energy sustainability. Some performed raps, while one of the groups presented a skit and others showcased cartoons and t-shirt designs.

Ed Hedges, Manager of KCP&L’s Smart Grid Technology Planning and Delivery, joined the four SCE professors as part of the panel of judges who closely reviewed each presentation. Hedges also passed out energy-efficient CFL bulbs to the students to help promote efficient energy consumption.

As part of the E-Save project, two students from UMKC designed a computer game to illustrate real-time energy consumption using animated pictures of various everyday electronic devices in a house, such as a fan, air conditioner or washing machine.

The virtual interface the students designed shows exactly how much energy these devices would consume. The goal is to help consumers monitor energy consumption and costs more efficiently.

The virtual game is a prototype of a website or app that could be used to remotely control devices and switch them on/off from a web link.

As part of the March 20 event, each team was invited to the stage and given an opportunity to switch on/off the devices using a tablet.

Kumar said the E-Save partnership with Paseo began in December 2012.

“The theme of the project was how to use energy wisely so that energy consumption was minimal,” Kumar said.

Hedges said the students brought up several good ideas in their presentations “We could take the seeds that were planted here and go forward with spreading the idea as part of a campaign that promotes energy efficiency as the best form of energy management.”

skadiyam@unews.com

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