Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

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

(more…)

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.

2015 EnergyWhiz Winners

Monday, May 4th, 2015

REVISED
May 21, 2015

SOLAR ENERGY COOKOFF

EnergyWhiz logo

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

Best Design – Yellow Division

  • 1st Place – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbor Beach
  • 2nd Place – Team B.A.M., Martinez Middle, Lutz
  • 3rd Place – Solar Sizzlers, Newberry Elementary, Newberry

Best Design – Orange Division

  • 1st Place – Solar Buddies, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City
  • 2nd Place – Rain in Spain Cooking Company, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando
  • 3rd Place – Girls, Doing Work!, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

Best Design – Red Division

  • 1st Place – Solar Apes, Pine Ridge High, Deltona
  • 2nd Place – Thunder Tabemono, Lake Region High, Eagle Lake
  • 3rd Place – The Doctor’s Delight, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

(more…)

Crowe Honored as Electric Vehicle Transportation Center’s Outstanding Student of the Year

Friday, February 6th, 2015

February 6, 2015

Each year at the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Transportation Research Board, the most outstanding student from each participating University Transportation Center (UTC) is honored for his/her achievements and promise for future contributions to the transportation field.

Mr. Thron Crowe was selected by the University of Central Florida’s Electric Vehicle Transportation Center and honored at this year’s 24th Annual Outstanding Student of the Year awards banquet in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2015.

Photo of Thron Crowe holding certificate

Mr. Thron Crowe (center) accepts award from Dr. Neville Parker, chair, CUTC Awards Committee, The City University of New York (left), and Mr. Greg Winfree, assistant secretary, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, US Dept. of Transportation, Washington, DC.

Mr. Crowe, an engineering student at Valencia College and employee at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), received the award for being responsible for locating and identifying accurate vehicular data in Florida’s main traffic arteries, which will be used for computational modeling of transport systems. He coordinated data collection with the University of Maryland’s Regional Integrated Transportation Information System and the Florida Department of Transportation. Additionally, Mr. Crowe has helped educate students, teachers, consumers, and fleet owners about the benefits of Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs) and using Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment in the public and private environments. Mr. Crowe also recently assisted in the award of a 50-kilowatt Direct Current Fast Charger at FSEC’s research testing facility in Cocoa, Fla.

For more information about UCF’s Electric Vehicle Transportation Center, visit http://evtc.fsec.ucf.edu/ or contact Dr. David Block at block@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1001.

Central Florida “Most Improved” in Petroleum Reduction Nationwide

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
Feb. 5, 2015

Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition logo

Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition encompasses a 10-county area.

The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition was awarded first place for Most Improved Petroleum Reduction, among nearly 100 coalitions nationwide. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalitions advance the nation’s economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local actions to reduce petroleum consumption in transportation.

The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition territory encompasses a 10-county area consisting of Brevard, Flagler, Indian River, Lake, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia Counties. The coalition had a 247 percent increase in petroleum reduction in 2013 compared to the previous year. The Most Improved award was announced at the annual Clean Cities Coordinator Workshop in December 2014.

(more…)

FSEC Affordable Housing Partners Recognized for DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

By Danielle Daniel
October 8, 2014

ZERO Energy Ready Home U.S. Department of Energy logo

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Leading Builders awards are presented to builders who are changing the way homes are designed and constructed.

Southeast Volusia Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity of South Sarasota County—affordable housing partners of the University of Central Florida’s FSEC—were the honored recipients of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home Leading Affordable Builders awards in September. A total of 28 industry leaders (including six affordable builders) were recognized at the 2014 Housing Innovation Award ceremony at EEBA’s Excellence in Building Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. DOE Housing Innovation Awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of contractors and builders to design and construct high performance, zero energy ready homes.

Energy efficiency, comfort, and durability are key components of DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes. To qualify for this certification, homes must meet stringent requirements in seven categories. To reduce energy consumption and resulting energy costs, these high performance homes must achieve a very low score on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. The closer the score is to zero, the less energy is needed to run the home.

(more…)

FSEC Research Fuels Patents, Commercialization, and Wins R&D 100 Award

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

By Sherri Shields
September 25, 2014

A hydrogen safety technology that was developed as a result of a partnership between the University of Central Florida’s FSEC® and NASA, and then commercialized by a university startup company, has been internationally recognized by the R&D 100 Awards program as one of the most technologically significant products to enter the marketplace last year.

When NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center needed an easy-to-use, safe, effective and non-powered solution to visually detect dangerous hydrogen leaks on and near the shuttle launch pad, they reached out to FSEC’s Dr. Ali Raissi and his team of researchers, Drs. Nazim Muradov, Gary Bokerman, Nahid Mohajeri, and R. Paul Brooker. Together, NASA KSC and FSEC—a research institute of the University of Central Florida—designed a one-of-a-kind, tape-like solution that selectively changes color in the presence of hydrogen gas. Since hydrogen gas is odorless and colorless, visual detection means that the leak source can now be quickly pinpointed for repair.

Photo of Nazim Muradov, Nahid Mohajeri, Gary Bokerman, Ali Raissi.

FSEC’s Advanced Energy Division researchers, left to right, Nazim Muradov, Nahid Mohajeri, Gary Bokerman, Ali Raissi. Not pictured: R. Paul Brooker.

(more…)

UCF Professor Wins Research Incentive Award

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Danielle Daniel

Congratulations to Dr. Nahid Mohajeri, who received a University of Central Florida (UCF) 2012-2013 Research Incentive Award in recognition of her exceptional research efforts. Dr. Mohajeri is an associate research professor at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

Professor Nahid Mohajeri

Each year, UCF recognizes faculty members and research staff who have an outstanding research, scholarly, or creative record that advances the body of knowledge in their field.

“I did not get here all by myself,” states Mohajeri, in response to receiving the award. “I have been helped, guided, and given opportunities by many people during my tenure at FSEC that I will forever be grateful,” she explains.

Dr. Mohajeri’s recent contributions to the research community include the development of highly durable proton exchange composite membranes for fuel cells, a technology based on the addition of cerium oxide nanoparticles to the membrane. When tested, this innovative approach   improved fuel cells’ membrane stability and performance, resulting in a sevenfold decrease in the open circuit voltage decay rate compared to the baseline membrane. Membranes are at the heart of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and by increasing their durability, goals for developing fuel cells as a reliable, alternate energy source are attainable.

Other accomplishments include the creation of a chemochromic hydrogen leak detection tool known as “Smart Paint,” which was used by NASA to visually detect colorless and odorless hydrogen leaks. Furthermore, Dr. Mohajeri discovered a new class of catalysts for the hydrolytic cleavage of ammonia borane, one of the promising classes of chemical hydrides for hydrogen storage. She has authored and co-authored more than 30 scientific publications and has received seven patents (awarded and applied). In addition to her research endeavors, Dr. Mohajeri says she considers it an honor as a professor to educate and mentor “the next generation of scientists.”

Regarding future contributions to energy research, Dr. Mohajeri’s diverse background has enabled her to work in various energy research areas. However, one focus in particular has garnered her attention: “The area of soft materials, such as polymers, for energy storage or energy efficiency technologies holds a special place in my overall interests in energy research,” she states.

Renewable Energy Student Teams Energized Even on a Cloudy Day

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

COCOA, May 09, 2013— With clouds in the sky and all eyes on the weather, more than 600 elementary, middle and high school students were energized on Saturday, May 4th. Student teams—from Key West to as far away as North Carolina—gathered at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center on Saturday to demonstrate their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills by competing at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III speaks into megaphone.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III welcomes crowd to EnergyWhiz Olympics.

The daylong event started out cloudy and posed challenges to the solar-dependent competitions, especially the Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off and the Junior Solar Sprint (solar-powered model car) teams. Although weather conditions were less than ideal, the sun managed to peek through the clouds and provide just enough energy for the teams to get through the solar competitions. And although Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge, depend on the sun for their complete product demonstration, teams also created marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to promote their product.

(more…)

2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Congratulations to the 2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners:

 

B.A.T. (Battery Assisted Transport) Mobile Challenge

1st Place Race:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Race:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Race:  Salt & Pepper, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

1st Place Design :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Design:  The Anaxagoras, Montessori World Academy, Orlando

 

Energy Innovations

Middle Division

1st Place Design:  Sunny Circus Snacks, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Urban Garden, Howard Middle, Orlando

3rd Place Design:   Cooking Device, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

 

High School Division

1st Place Design:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Suk-A-Poop, Island Coast High, Cape Coral

3rd Place Design:  Solar Bike, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Hydrogen Challenge

Middle Division

1st Place:   The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

2nd Place:  The Kit Kats, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place:  Child’s Play, Gifford Middle, Vero Beach

Most Accurate:  N.E.R.D.S. – New Energy Regeneration Device, Gulf Coast Academy, Spring Hill

 

High School Division

1st Place:  Tiger Engineering, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

2nd Place:  The Domino Theory, Edgewood Jr/ Sr High, Merritt Island

3rd Place:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Most Accurate :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

(more…)