Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

UCF 1 of 6 Nationwide Teams Selected to Lead Research Partnerships for High-Performance Housing

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
Interior of townhouse with staircase by front door. Return air grill under on side of staircase with mini-split ac unti above front door.

This mini-split air conditioning unit is located as close as possible to the central return grille of the existing system to help with room-to-room air distribution.

By Sherri Shields

COCOA, Fla., July 11, 2017—The University of Central Florida (UCF) is one of six nationwide teams selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive $3.7 million to study how to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ) in homes.

The selected projects are expected to lead to improved home energy efficiency and smarter home operation for millions of American families, saving money on their energy bills while improving health and comfort.

UCF will get more than $870,000 for two, two-year projects, which will be led by the university’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa, Fla. The center is a leader in energy research, with three decades of energy and buildings research, technical assistance, and training experience. It’s expertise has led to it being named a DOE Building America Program’s Industry Partnerships recipient.

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FSEC Earns 2017 ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes Market Leader Award

Friday, June 30th, 2017

COCOA, Fla., June 30, 2017—The University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center® has earned an ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes Market Leader Award in recognition of its continued commitment to providing our nation’s homebuyers with ENERGY STAR® certified homes.

EnergyStar Market Leader Award 2017 Certified Homes logo

Home nergy raters submitted 2,905 home energy ratings through FSEC software services in 2017.

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes program presents Market Leader Awards to outstanding partners who have made important contributions to energy–efficient construction and environmental protection by building or verifying an outstanding number of ENERGY STAR® certified homes. As a rating provider, Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®) contributed 2,905 ENERGY STAR® certified homes in 2016, which is equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by 4,915 metric tons.

“FSEC is pleased to be recognized for this award on behalf of the energy raters who worked with builders to achieve ENERGY STAR-labeled homes and registered their ratings through our software services,” says Robin Vieira, director of Buildings Research at FSEC.

The expert team of FSEC trainers and reviewers, working with energy raters, are an integral part of FSEC’s success as an ENERGY STAR® provider. In addition, FSEC’s innovative EnergyGauge software “automatically computes the necessary ENERGY STAR calculation to make determining the energy efficiency level of compliance easy,” explains Vieira.

The partnership between FSEC and ENERGY STAR® has been a lasting one. “FSEC helped EPA launch the ENERGY STAR® for Homes program in 1995 and will continue to work to research energy-efficient methods and to educate the building industry on best practices,” added Vieira.

The ENERGY STAR® program helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency standards.

Learn more about ENERGY STAR at https://www.energystar.gov/about.

Review the full list of ENERGY STAR award winners at https://www.energystar.gov/about/2017_energy_star_certified_homes_market_leader_award_winners.

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PR17-05

Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition

Monday, June 5th, 2017

COCOA, June 5, 2017—Nearly 50 schools across Florida—from Key West and Tallahassee—participated in this year’s EnergyWhiz competition last month at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

More than 115 teams, which included nearly 500 students, prepared their projects for competition: model-sized solar cars for the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), solar ovens for the Cook-off, full-scale photovoltaic panels for Energy Innovations, energy-efficient animal homes for the Critter Comfort Cottage competition, and go-cart-sized electric cars for the Electrathon.

In the longest running event, JSS, cars underwent inspection, design judging, time-trials, and new this year, team interviews. “Questions from judges may sometimes be intimidating, but interviews give students the opportunity to shine when they’ve put their heart and soul into a project,” said Guytri Still, JSS lead design judge and former middle school science teacher.

Long table with students on one side, inspectors on other side. JSS car being weighed in.

Junior Solar Sprint cars are inspected and weighed. Credit: Selina Black

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Lincoln Middle School Bowls Over the Competition – Again!

Monday, March 13th, 2017

By Susan Schleith

Middle school science bowl teams from across Florida met at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida (UCF), in Cocoa, Fla. on Saturday, March 4, 2017, to compete in a high stakes science competition. The Space Coast Science Education Alliance (SCSEA) Middle School Science Bowl is one of 50 competitions nationwide that yields a regional winning team that advances to the National Middle School Science Bowl competition.

2017 Regional Champions, National Science Bowl

Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team I members from Gainesville, Fla. earn the National Science Bowl 2017 Regional Champions title. Pictured left to right are Avery Bernstein, Amy Cao, Bill Zhao, Sarthak Roy, Atharva Pathak, and Coach Sheryl Buchanan.

Twenty teams worked through numerous rounds of questions until eight Florida teams were remaining. The finalist teams then competed in double elimination rounds responding to questions in the following categories: General Science, Earth and Space, Life Science, Energy, Math, and Physical Science.

Those eight finalist teams included: two teams from Abraham Lincoln Middle from Gainesville, two teams from American Heritage School in Plantation, Central Middle from West Melbourne, DeLaura Middle from Satellite Beach, Falcon Cove from Weston, and Westglades Middle from Parkland.

American Heritage Team Black offered strong competition for the Lincoln Middle Team I. Ultimately, Lincoln Middle Team I’s extensive knowledge, experience, and speed on the buzzer paid off with the win.
1st – Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team I, Gainesville
2nd – American Heritage Team Black, Plantation
3rd – Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team II, Gainesville

“The students were impressive, not only in their science and mathematics knowledge and skills, but also in how well they conducted themselves.  All were gracious, whether they won or lost.  It gives me great hope for the future!” said Jennifer Thompson, Secretary for the Space Coast Science Education Alliance.

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UCF Establishes Chapter of National Academy of Inventors

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

By Barb Abney

November 8, 2016

Group photo of inductees into National Academy of Inventers UCF Chapter. UCF Office of Research and Commercialization backdrop behind members.The University of Central Florida inducted 29 researchers into its new chapter of the National Academy of Inventors on Monday night in a gala focused on innovation and invention.

The NAI membership has more than 200 institutional organizations that encourage and support their faculty, staff and students to create innovative and groundbreaking technologies.

“We have faculty and students who are creating technologies that change the world,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “Our past success, in combination with our ever-expanding potential to impact areas as diverse as engineering, education and health, is growing our reputation as a change agent. This NAI chapter will play an important role in growing that reputation and spurring on more innovation, which will benefit our community here and beyond.”

Issa Batarseh, professor of electrical engineering, and Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for commercialization and innovation, will lead UCF’s chapter.

“Innovation is on the rise at UCF and this strong inaugural class of inventors makes it clear that we are making an impact,” O’Neal said.

UCF has routinely ranked among the top universities in the country for the strength of its patents. Together, the inaugural class holds 541 of the 925 patents the university has claimed since 1989.

Several new chapter members – who are already NAI Fellows – were recognized at the gala.

UCF’s newest national fellow, Guifang Li, professor of optics and photonics, physics and engineering, was recognized by the NAI in 2015 for his optical-fiber communications technologies. He is the lead inventor on 24 U.S. issued patents and his work has been influential in building faster and more efficient network-communication systems.

Some of the inaugural members are James J. Hickman, professor of chemistry, biomolecular science and electrical engineering, who is building human-on-a-chip systems to test toxicity of pharmaceuticals and ultimately eliminate the need for human and animal drug trials. Hickman has received 10 U.S. patents while at UCF.

Also, Richard Blair, associate professor of chemistry, has developed a proprietary method to give industry-affordable access to graphene – one of the world’s strongest materials. He has licensed the technology to UCF startup company Garmor Inc. and is the lead inventor on eight U.S. issued patents.

Founded in 2010, the NAI is a non-profit organization with more than 3,000 members. The NAI seeks to recognize and encourage inventors with U.S. patents, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate its members’ inventions to benefit society.

Inventors from UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, and the number of patents they earned while at UCF, include: Danny Parker (30), Nazim Muradov, Ph.D. (27), Issa Batarseh, Ph.D. (21), and Ali Raissi, Ph.D. (18).

The complete list of UCF fellows is at https://tt.research.ucf.edu/nai

Research Paper Illustrating Novel Approaches in Solar Hydrogen Production Wins Best Paper Award

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

June 22, 2016
By Sherri Shields

FSEC researchers and their Texas A&M University co-authors win Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Hydrogen Production (ICHP) in Hangzhou, China last month. Illustrating the novel approaches in solar hydrogen production, the paper, “Solar reactor investigation for the thermochemical steps of the sulfur-ammonia water-splitting cycle,” has also been included in a special issue of the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Photo of experiment behind yellow plastic curtain.

Experimental set-up of photocatalytic hydrogen production at UCF’s FSEC.

“In our work, we presented the solar-driven hybrid sulfur-ammonia water splitting cycle (HySA) for hydrogen production. HySA is a promising technology for energy and environment applications, utilizing both solar photon and thermal radiation in a series of reaction steps. This study presented our efforts toward the design of a solar aerosol reactor for the thermochemical steps of the cycle. For this, we developed a conceptual particle model, based on our experimental and numerical findings,” said Agni Kalyva, Texas A&M University at Qatar. (more…)

Gainesville Middle School Science Bowl Team Overtakes Miami in Double-Elimination, Melbourne Team Places Third

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

By Sherri Shields
March 16, 2015

Florida is one of 50 regional science bowl competitions nationwide that yields the winning team that advances to the National Middle School Science Bowl. This year, 17 middle school teams came to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, in Cocoa on March 5 to flex their intellect muscle in a fast-paced question-and-answer competition.

Four-member teams sit at a six-foot table, waiting for their question to be delivered.

Seventeen Florida teams competed in the double-elimination regional science bowl challenge.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the science bowl encourages middle school students to excel in mathematics, science and engineering. It provides an avenue of enrichment and reward for academic science achievement

Eight Florida finalist teams worked through the double elimination rounds over the course of several hours. Those teams were: Abraham Lincoln Middle from Gainesville, Archimedean Middle Conservatory from Miami, Edgewood Jr/Sr. High from Merritt Island, Falcon Cove Middle from Weston, Forest Grove Middle from Ft. Pierce, Westglades Middle from Coral Springs, West Shore Jr./Sr. from Melbourne, and Westwood Middle from Gainesville.

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Dr. Lixing Gu Receives ASHRAE Distinguished Service Award

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

By Kelsey Dwyer
August 11, 2015

Dr. Lixing Gu, principal research engineer in the Buildings Research department at FSEC, has received the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Distinguished Service Award at ASHRAE’s 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. He received this award by exceeding 15 service points, exhibiting his abundance of service to the society.  Dr. Gu has dedicated much of his time and talent to ASHRAE, from completing research projects to publishing papers and reports in ASHRAE journals. Robin Vieira, director of the Buildings Research at FSEC, spoke highly of Dr. Gu’s accomplishments, saying, “This was a well-deserved award for Dr. Gu, who has contributed greatly to the knowledge base of heat transfers and buildings for the past 27 years.”

FSEC's Dr. Lixing Gu receives ASHRAE Distinguished Service award.

FSEC’s Dr. Lixing Gu, right, receives ASHRAE’s Distinguished Service Award.

EnergyWhiz Energizes Students in Hydrogen and Solar

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
May 28, 2015

It’s a growing phenomenon in Florida! From the Panhandle to the Keys, EnergyWhiz is drawing in students fascinated with renewable energy technology.

EnergyWhiz logo

EnergyWhiz – a venue for students to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art, and math capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused projects and activities.

EnergyWhiz, which includes six separate competitions, is a venue for students in grades fourth through 12th to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused competitions. At this year’s 13th annual event on May 2, more than 650 energized students from across Florida converged at the University of Central Florida’s FSEC in Cocoa to showcase their renewable energy projects and participate in the competitions. “We like making things run on the sun,” said Conner Dale, a student from Edgewood Junior Senior High. “It’s fun to interact with other students from across the state,” added Raydn Hall.

Tallahassee, Gainesville and Orlando hosted smaller EnergyWhiz Expos this year, leading up to the major EnergyWhiz event. “In an effort to reach more students, we’re encouraging teachers across Florida to host regional EnergyWhiz Expos, and then the winners of the expos will advance to the state level and compete at FSEC,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 education director at FSEC.

Students with red clown noses and neon colored wigs stand around contraption while judges look on.

Team Welcome to the Carnival from Milwee Middle School in Longwood earns the WOW! Award in the Hydrogen Challenge. Photo: Sherri Shields

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Energy Department Funds UCF Research in Housing Innovations

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

By Barb Abney
May 14, 2015

Photo of Eric Martin in lab, leaning on test wall structure.

Eric Martin at FSEC’s Flexible Residential Testing Facility. Credit: Nicholas Waters

 

The University of Central Florida is the only university-led team in the nation to receive part of a $4 million investment by the Energy Department to develop and demonstrate energy efficient methods of keeping homes cool in the summer and warm in winter.

The Energy Department’s Building America program is working with industry partners to develop cutting-edge innovations and resources that will lead to 50 percent savings in new homes by 2025 and 40 percent savings in existing homes by 2030.

The Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction, led by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), will receive nearly $1 million for research focused on optimal comfort systems for heating, cooling, air distribution, and humidity control. The project will also study high performance ventilation systems and indoor air quality strategies.

“This research will help us develop integrated approaches to making homes more energy efficient while keeping them comfortable, healthy and durable,” said Eric Martin, the project’s lead researcher and program director in FSEC’s Building Research Division.

Much of the work focuses on cooling applications in hot and humid climates like Florida’s. Work on keeping homes warm in the winter will be conducted by partners at Washington State University.

Experiments will be conducted in laboratory homes located at FSEC, as well as in occupied homes.

“To ensure near-term market penetration, we are working with several industry partners including production home builders and product manufacturers,” Martin said. “But we are also focused on influencing codes and standards, which can result in a significant market impact for years to come.”

A major focus of the Building America program is reducing home heating and cooling because combined they represent the highest single energy use for U.S. homeowners or 40 percent of a home’s energy consumption. In 2014, U.S. homeowners spent $70 billion to heat their homes and $24 billion to cool them. Improving the energy efficiency of home heating and cooling systems and building envelopes including roof, walls and windows is estimated to potentially reduce space conditioning energy consumption by as much as 70 percent.

Over the past 20 years FSEC has led three Building America Industry Partnerships: the Energy Efficient Industrialized Housing Partnership, the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership and the Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction.