Motion Control and Drives Laboratory


The research focus of this laboratory is on the coordination of the emerging, digitally controlled electric power grid, control and standardization of grid-connected power-electronic equipment and smart monitoring devices, and utilization of energy through the application of sensor networks, intelligent control systems, and the integration of simulation, optimization and design, while assuring communication/data security of such devices installed in the nation’s smart grid.

Alternative Energy

The laboratory will collaborate with public agencies, industry partners, and other universities and colleges to:

  • Pursue projects that increase the production and use of energy from renewable resources like wind energy, solar energy, biofuels, and other alternative non-fossil fuel sources
  • Incorporate all viable alternative energy technologies into a series of interrelated electrical & mechanical systems for the purpose of performing student training & exploration, industry-related component trials & testing, and graduate level research & experimentation, for the ultimate benefit of the United States electric utilities and power industry and the consumers
  • Develop more efficient renewable energy generation, control, and grid-interconnection to and from micro grid and the national smart grid
  • Develop energy storage technologies to beat the intermittency of the renewable energy generation for rapid marketplace applications such as plug-in-hybrid or electronic vehicle chargers, and grid-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-grid power transfer
  • Educate and produce more students in this field; aspiring college students are being encouraged to strongly consider a career in electrical engineering with a focus on energy systems to meet the growing demand for renewable and green energy technology

Potential Research Projects

Evaluate Losses in the Power Distribution System and Develop Methods to Minimize Losses

Losses in the power distribution system can be measured using a voltage drop meter. It is proposed to conduct several voltage drop surveys of existing buildings. The data will be evaluated for code compliance. Data will also be compared to typical calculation techniques used in the design process in order to compare actual measured conditions. Alternate configurations such as ring versus radial will be proposed to improve efficiency and reduce voltage drop. Test circuits will be installed to verify improved efficiency. Comparisons of the various options will be presented and evaluated with respect to cost, reliability, and energy savings.

Computation Intelligence (Smart Commissioning) Applied to Building Automation Systems

The purpose of this research initiative would be to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a smart commissioning tool for health monitoring, fault detection and diagnostics of building environmental systems. Building commissioning is the testing of installed systems and verifying that they meet the design requirements. As the system operates, various changes develop in the system which can result in less than optimal performance. A smart commissioning tool that employs computational intelligence methods can be used to keep systems operating at the desired levels. Building system data will be collected and analyzed. Computational intelligence tools such as fuzzy logic will be applied to a given baseline system. The objective is to develop an automated monitoring and fault diagnostics tool that monitors mechanical and electrical data with special emphasis on energy consumption and environmental comfort.

A case study using actual data from two existing buildings will be utilized to demonstrate the feasibility of the system. A fuzzy logic system that uses a relational database will be developed. Additional computational intelligence tools such as artificial neural networks (ANN) will also be integrated as needed to make the system work efficiently.

Data acquisition will commence on award of the grant with the installation of recording meters already in hand. Models of the mechanical systems will first be developed so that intelligent control methods can be tested in the lab. The collected data will be used to develop the models and verify their accuracy. Using the intelligent control methods developed in the lab, tests will be conducted on various portions of actual systems in operation.

Integration of Renewable Sources with Typical Building Power Distribution Systems

A new alternative energy power laboratory will be set up in the existing energy conversion laboratory space at Howard University. A Small Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system will be installed on the roof and associated electrical power and control system hardware will be installed in the new alternative power laboratory. Power generated from the PV array will be integrated with an existing building power system and data collected to demonstrate energy savings. Similarly, a small wind turbine system designed for urban areas will also be installed on the roof along with associated electrical power and control system hardware which will be installed in the new alternative power laboratory. A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System will be installed in the laboratory to collect data, control power generation, and load control of the new equipment.

This laboratory will provide students and faculty with the tools to investigate new and innovative ways to generate power, control loads, and make the overall built environment more energy efficient and independent.


Cooley Pays it Forward with Tech 4.0 STEAM Technology Teen Workshop

Fri, September 6, 2019

Computer Science Senior Jasmon Cooley is paying it forward with her non-profit startup Tech 4.0. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Cooley witnessed the absence of engineers and information technology professionals in her environment. She recognized this as a lack of available opportunities and resources. Her goal is to create a pipeline for African American engineering talent, multiplying the number of African American engineers in the United States. Read More >>

Diaz-Caez Visiting Graduate Researcher at Tsinghua University this Summer

Fri, August 23, 2019

Electrical engineering Ph.D. student Christian Diaz-Caez was selected to participate in a National Science Foundation (NSF) IRES project as a visiting graduate researcher at Tsinghua University this summer. The U.S. News and World Report ranks Tsinghua University as No. 1 in Global Universities in China rankings. Read More >>


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