Getting Smart with the USC Smart Grid Project

Zach-2014 Viterbi Class Leave a Comment

What’s up everybody! Before I dive into this post, I’d just like to say THE CARDINALS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS WOOOOO-HOOOO

PLAYOFFS!! 12 IN 12!

Phew, now that that’s out of my system I can start the post.

Last spring I was introduced to the USC Smart Grid research group through the unlikeliest of connections. My friend and recent alumnus from the USC rugby team was working on a progressive degree in Green Technologies while he worked in the Smart Grid group. Anyways, long story short connections are crucial and because of my involvement on the rugby team I was able to learn about this awesome research group at SC.

So what exactly is a Smart Grid? Since I cannot explain it any better than the Department of Energy can, I’ll cite their definition here saying:

“Smart grid” generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing that has been used for decades in other industries…They offer many benefits to utilities and consumers — mostly seen in big improvements in energy efficiency on the electricity grid and in the energy users’ homes and offices.”

A great graphic demonstrating the elements which define a smart grid

The project I’m working on is part of a larger, Department of Energy funded project appropriately called the Los Angeles Smart Grid Demonstration project. At USC, we’re tackling a few different components of the larger project. There’s a group working on consumer behavior, public policy, and cloud computing/software architecture. However, the team that I work with is in charge of studying Demand Response, collecting, sorting, and analyzing data that will allow us to understand what energy curtailment methods are most effective on different types of buildings and create prediction models that allow us to have a general idea of what a building’s energy load will look like given a multitude of variables (building usage schedule, weather, holidays etc).

What’s awesome about the group is that although it is primarily a comp-sci group, there’s need for other types of engineers, which has allowed me to contribute while also learning a lot more about an area that I normally wouldn’t have known. I’m really looking forward to delving further into this project and becoming well versed in sensor technology and power systems. One of the reasons I came to SC was because I knew cutting-edge, “game-changing” research was being conducted on campus and there was opportunity for undergrads to get involved. So far, the project has been everything I have wanted and more.

Until next time, stay classy fellow/aspiring engineers.

I’m Ron Burgundy?

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