Author: ECE Seminar Series: Age of Information in Status Update Systems

ECE title



ECE Seminar Fall 2018

November 26, 1pm-2pm, ITE 336

Age of Information in Status Update Systems

Donald Richard Brown

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Abstract: Information freshness is of critical importance in a variety of networked monitoring and control systems such as intelligent vehicular systems, channel state feedback, and environmental monitoring. In these types of applications, stale information can lead to incorrect decisions, unstable control loops, and even compromises in safety and security. A recent line of research has considered information freshness from a fundamental perspective under an “Age of Information” (AoI) metric first proposed in 2011. Early work in a simple single-source single-monitor setting showed the somewhat surprising result that there exists an optimal rate at which a source must generate its information to keep its status as timely as possible at the monitor. This rate differs from the rate that maximizes throughput and the rate that minimizes delivery delay. In this talk, we will provide an overview of the concept of AoI, discuss a stochastic hybrid systems (SHS) approach to analyze AoI in certain settings, present recent results on AoI using SHS analysis in a single-source single-monitor setting with a server with energy constraints, and also present recently derived results on the fundamental limits of information freshness in multi-source multi-monitor multi-hop wireless networks with explicit contention.

Short bio: D. Richard Brown III is currently a Professor and the Associate Department Head in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he has been a faculty member since 2000. He received a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 2000 and MS and BS degrees in Electrical Engineering from The University of Connecticut in 1996 and 1992, respectively. From 1992-1997, he was a design engineer at General Electric Electrical Distribution and Control in Plainville, Connecticut. From August 2007 to June 2008, he held an appointment as a Visiting Associate Professor at Princeton University.  From 2016-2018, he served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the Computing and Communications Foundations (CCF) division of the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE). He is also currently serving as an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications.

Author: CPES 2018 Excellence in Energy awarded to Dr. Peng Zhang


Excellence in Energy
Energy Technology Advancements/Research and Academics
Awarded to Dr. Peng Zhang for his outstanding contribution to energy research and academics at University of Connecticut. 
Event register is available at the original post

Author: UCONN PhD Student Yan Li to be Honored with the 2018 Rising Star Award

Hartford, CT (October 10, 2018):  Connecticut Power and Energy Society (CPES) is thrilled to honor Yan Li, a University of Connecticut PhD student, with the 2018 Rising Star award at its 19th annual The Future of Energy: What’s the Deal? Conference and Exposition on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 7:30 AM – 2:30 PM at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington, Connecticut.

“Yan has helped shape the energy landscape in Connecticut and the New England region by inventing new technologies that have significantly increased the hosting capacity of distributed energy resources (DERs, especially PVs) for CT’s power grids and protected our energy infrastructures against cyber-physical attacks,” said CPES Board Member and UCONN Director of Utility Operations and Energy Management Stanley Nolan.

A gifted young scholar full of creative ideas, Yan has demonstrated strong creativities in important areas including smart grids, cybersecurity, software-defined networking, microgrids, and networked microgrids. She has made outstanding contributions in smart grid and cyber-physical security.

Yan has pioneered two important areas Networked Microgrids and Software-Defined Smart Grids, which are of special interest to the renewables utilization and power grid modernization in Connecticut. Yan has developed a tool for the real-time dynamic analysis of renewable-energy-dominated power system (including networked microgrids) in Connecticut and its stability margin predictions. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted $1.05 million and U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted near $1 million to sponsor the aforementioned research.

Counting already eight prestigious research awards, contributions to 28 peer-reviewed publications, and her ability to secure over $3.4 million federal funding for UConn to conduct research in power and energy resilience and cybersecurity; Yan is entering her final year of PhD program with the career goal of being an outstanding female professor in a top university in the New England region.



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Author: ECE Seminar Series: Elements of an Innovation Ecosystem

ECE title



ECE Seminar Fall 2018

October 3, 3pm-4pm, ITE 401

Elements of an Innovation Ecosystem

 Dr. Barry L. Shoop

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Abstract: Clayton M. Christensen first coined the term disruptive technology in his 1995 article “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave” in which he described disruptive technology as a new technology that unexpectedly displaces an established technology. Later, in his classic text The Innovator’s Dilemma, he asks the question “Why do well-managed companies fail? He concludes that they often fail because the very management practices that have allowed them to become industry leaders also make it extremely difficult for them to recognize and develop the disruptive technologies that ultimately capture their markets. Well-managed companies are excellent at developing sustaining technologies, those technologies that improve the performance of their products in ways that satisfy their customers. Disruptive technologies, however, are distinctly different and fundamentally change the value proposition in a market according to a distinct pathology. In addition to understanding disruptive innovations, we have found that it is equally important to understand the human dimension of technology innovation – how social, cultural, and religious factors impact the acceptance or rejection of technological innovation. To understand these contributing factors we include insights from three classic texts including The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn, The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin, and The Two Cultures by C. P. Snow. Beyond the technological and human dimensions, it is equally important to develop both the organizational structure and organizational culture dimensions that encourage and support an ecosystem of innovation. Iconic examples of the consequences of the lack of effective innovation are Blackberry, Nokia, Blockbuster, Borders and Kodak while the world’s most successful innovators such as Apple, Google, General Electric and Procter & Gamble have succeeded in embedding innovation into their very DNA.

Short bio: Barry L. Shoop is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his 25 years at West Point he has served in a number of key leadership positions including Director of the Photonics Research Center and Director of the Electrical Engineering Program. Currently as Professor and Head he is responsible for an undergraduate academic department with over 79 faculty and staff supporting ABET accredited programs in electrical engineering, computer science, and information technology. The department engages over 1800 students each year and has 4 affiliated research centers including the Cyber Research Center, Network Science Center, Photonics Research Center and a burgeoning Robotics Program. Dr. Shoop holds 1 patent and has authored or co-authored 8 books and book chapters, and over 146 publications. He received a B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University and Ph.D. from Stanford University, both in electrical engineering. His research interests include optical information processing, neural networks, image processing, disruptive innovations and educational pedagogy. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, OSA and SPIE, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Eta Kappa Nu, and Sigma Xi. Dr. Shoop served as the 2016 IEEE President and CEO. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Author: A Cyborg Cockroach Could Someday Save Your Life

UConn engineers are using insects as platforms for small robots. Their microcircuit could improve control of futuristic biobots. (Getty Images)

A cockroach no bigger than a large paper clip scurries across the floor of Abhishek Dutta’s lab at the University of Connecticut.

Some scientists might be shocked to see such a notorious visitor occupying their research space.

But not Dutta. He watches intently as the roach moves left, and then right, then left again, as it traverses the cool tile floor. His interest is well-founded, for he is the one initiating the tiny creature’s movements with a small handheld device about 15 feet away.

The Madagascar hissing cockroach in this lab is not just any old member of the order Blattodea. It is a robot-roach hybrid, a hardwired biological insect  a cyborg if you will  and its future high-tech brethren may one day save your life.

“The use of insects as platforms for small robots has an incredible number of useful applications, from search and rescue to national defense,” says Dutta, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering who specializes in control system optimization and cyber-physical systems.

Cockroach robots aren’t new, however. Researchers have been exploring biorobotic platforms for insects for the better part of the past decade. But building robotic systems at such miniature scale isn’t easy, and the technology seems to work only about half the time.

In a paper soon to be published in Proceedings of the Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience, Philadelphia 2018, Dutta, and undergraduate Evan Faulkner, a junior working in his lab, report their creation of a microcircuit that they say allows more reliable and precise control of robotic insect motion.

A cockroach with an implanted neurocontroller. (Image courtesy of the Dutta Lab)

To improve control of the insect, Dutta’s microcircuit incorporates a 9-axis inertial measurement unit that can detect the roach’s six degrees of free motion, its linear and rotational acceleration, and its compass heading. Another feature that Dutta and Faulkner added is the ambient temperature surrounding the creature, because tests have shown that the temperature of the environment in which a roach is moving can affect how and where the insect moves. Roaches, for the record, are more likely to go for walks when it’s warm.

The microcircuit Dutta and Faulkner created is part of a small electronic ‘backpack’ that can be strapped to the back of a cockroach. Wires from the device are attached to the insect’s antennae lobes. A tiny Bluetooth transmitter and receiver allows a nearby operator to control the roach’s movements via an ordinary cellphone. Sending tiny electrical impulses to the nerve tissue in the insect’s right or left antenna lobe makes the insect believe it has encountered an obstacle. A small charge to the left antenna makes the insect move away to the right. Likewise, a charge sent to the right antenna makes the insect move left. It’s power steering redefined.

While other labs have developed similar control systems, UConn’s microcircuit is distinctive in that it offers operators a greater degree of control of the insect’s movement, real-time feedback of the insect’s neuromuscular response to artificial stimuli, and multi-channel avenues for stimulating the insect’s nerve tissue. The result is a more informed and precise system of control.

The UConn system’s microcontroller and built-in potentiometer lets operators vary the output voltage, frequency, and cycle of the stimuli sent to the insect. (A potentiometer, if you’re wondering, is the proper name of an electronic device that adjusts voltage. It’s the thing that makes light dimmer switches possible, and allows you to adjust the volume on your stereo.) The stimulus that resulted in the most robust response from the cockroach was around 1.2V amplitude, 55 Hz frequency, and 50 percent duty cycle. (No roaches were hurt by these experiments, by the way.)

One interesting tidbit the researchers noticed was that the roach’s movements left or right in response to artificial stimulation decreased in intensity after the initial stimulus. So if the roach made a hard left after the first electronic pulse hit its right antenna lobe, its turn was less dramatic with each subsequent pulse to that lobe. The researchers aren’t sure why this happens, but it is handy information to know when you’re the one doing the steering.

Most importantly, Dutta says, the system allowed users to utilize the real-time feedback sent over the Bluetooth system to set specific parameters for stimulating the insect’s antennae lobes, and that allowed them to steer the insect in a desired direction.

“Our microcircuit provides a sophisticated system for acquiring real-time data on an insect’s heading and acceleration, which allows us to extrapolate its trajectory,” says Dutta. “We believe this advanced closed loop, model-based system provides better control for precision maneuvering, and overcomes some of the technical limitations currently plaguing today’s micro robots.”

While the new microcircuit is certainly a step forward for robot insect technology, Dutta acknowledges much more research is needed. Insect-driven biobots, you might say, are still in their larval stage. Ongoing advances in micro-hardware design and micro-control systems could lead to a new generation of devices that work even better.

Funding for this research was provided by a UConn startup grant, and in part by the United Technologies Corporation – Institute of Advanced Systems Engineering.


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Author: ECE Seminar Series: Game-Theoretic Methods for Cyber-Physical Control and Security of Distributed Microgrids

ECE title

ECE Seminar Fall 2018

September 10, 1pm-2pm, ITE 336

Game-Theoretic Methods for Cyber-Physical Control and Security of Distributed Microgrids

Quanyan Zhu

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

New York University

Abstract: Game-theoretic methods have been widely used to model interactions of agents in complex systems. This talk aims to provide an overview of game-theoretic applications in the control and cybersecurity of microgrids. The first part of the talk introduces a non-cooperative game-theoretic power flow framework to develop distributed control of renewable-based microgrids. The solution concept of Nash equilibrium characterizes the outcome of distributed generation and plug-and-play integration with the power grid. The game-theoretic analysis leads to a fully distributed PMU-enabled algorithm which only needs local information of voltage angle at the bus. The talk also presents the Stackelberg equilibrium solution to capture the leader-and-follower relationships between the existing grid and the microgrids. The second part of the talk introduces game-theoretic models to understand the Stuxnet-type of threats on the power plants. A Bayesian dynamic game framework is first introduced to model the strategic interactions between an attacker and a defender under incomplete information. The attacker aims to achieve her objective stealthily through a combination of social engineering, lateral movement, and cyber-physical attacks. The defender aims to learn, detect, and mitigate the impact of the attack on the power plant and the consequential cascading failures. The talk will conclude with open questions and general discussions on game-theoretic frameworks for cyber-physical security and resilience.

Short bio: Quanyan Zhu received B. Eng. in Honors Electrical Engineering from McGill University in 2006, M.A.Sc. from University of Toronto in 2008, and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2013. After a short stint at Princeton University, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New York University (NYU) as an assistant professor in 2014. His research interest is game theory, smart grid, network security and privacy, resilient critical infrastructures, cyber-physical systems and cyber deception. He is a recipient of best paper awards at the International Conference on Information Fusion (Fusion 2015), ACM CCS Workshop on Managing Insider Security Threats (MIST 2015), and the International Symposium on Resilient Control Systems (ISRCS 2011). He spearheaded INFOCOM Workshop on Communications and Control on Smart Energy Systems (CCSES), Midwest Workshop on Control and Game Theory (WCGT) and New York Multidisciplinary Symposium on Security and Privacy. His current research has been funded by NSF, DOE, DHS, and DARPA.

Author: Milking cows for data – not just dairy products

Optimizing cows.


In the mid-1970s, the average American dairy farm had about 25 cows. Today, many operations have more than 3,000 – a number that was almost unheard of 25 years ago.

Managing large herds efficiently would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, without the latest advances in computing and automation. Most dairies now have milking parlors and associated free-stall housing, which double or triple production per man-hour. Milking units automatically detach to reduce udder health problems and improve milk quality, while cow ID transponders let farmers automatically record production data.

The most recent major technological advance influencing the U.S. dairy industry is the development of automatic milking systems – or “robotic” milkers.

At the University of Connecticut’s Kellogg Dairy Center, we’re using robotic milkers as well as other sensors to monitor 100 cows and their physical environment. Through this work, launched this spring, we hope to monitor individual cow’s behavior and health in real time to improve production efficiency and animal well-being.

Big data and cows

Robotic milkers can harvest milk without human involvement. In fact, the cows decide when to be milked, entering the machine without direct human supervision. The robotic system automatically identifies the cow and applies a sanitizing teat spray before a robotic arm attaches the teat cup for milking.

That’s very different from parlor milking, where managers decide when to milk cows, usually three times a day. Each robotic milking unit serves 50 to 55 cows.

Given the high price of early versions of the robotic milkers and the large size of U.S. herds, American dairies had minimal interest in robotic milkers before 2010. However, the number of automatic milking systems in the country increased to over 2,500 units in 2013, mainly due to improvements in design in the newer models. Worldwide, there are currently over 35,000 automatic milking systems in operation.

A row of cows being milked

Not only have these newer machines improved in harvesting milk efficiently, they have the added ability to collect a greater amount of information about production, milk composition and cow behavior. That allows producers to make more informed management decisions.

With robotic milking systems, the cows run the show. They decide when to eat, ruminate, rest or be milked. They also need to spend less than an hour per day actually being milked; before robotic milkers, milking often took up three to five hours per day.

We wanted to know: What are they doing with the rest of their day? How does that behavior affect production or serve to indicate health status? By themselves, the milking units can’t gather that kind of information, which would be very useful in finding out early on whether a particular cow is developing a health problem.

Our “cow-CPS” – a cyber-physical system that includes the cows, robotic milkers, video cameras and other sensors – will track data on our cows at all times. That will tell us, among other things, where the cows go when not being milked; when they decide to eat, rest or do other activities; and the composition of their milk. Sensors placed inside the body will even tell us the pH inside one of their stomachs, which could be a key indicator of any digestive problems.

Optimizing dairies

We hope that all of this data will allow us to make timely decisions at the level of the individual cow, something that’s not easy to do in large herds. This “precision dairying” could help us understand how an individual cow’s activities – eating, standing, resting, milking – affects her milk production, milk quality and health.

We plan to analyze the data with the help of machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence that can find patterns in large amounts of information. The computer will compare the data against a model of how the dairy should operate under ideal conditions. Our model captures critical performance characteristics – milk quality and productivity – as well as relevant constraints, such as individual health and reproductive status.

As the dairy operates, the real-time data will allow us to assess how far away our real farm is from the ideal one. We can then combine this information with a mathematical optimization algorithm to determine how exactly we should modify or adjust the process. For example, the algorithm may suggest adjusting the type of teat drip, the nutritional content of the feed or the amount of time each cow spends feeding.

We hope that our work will allow dairy farmers across the U.S. to better manage individual cows in a group setting – not only to improve milk production, but to bolster cow health.

Author: Javidi Wins Prestigious Award from The Optical Society

The UConn School of Engineering is pleased to announce that Dr. Bahram Javidi, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize from The Optical Society.

The award, given to one person in the country every year, was bestowed upon Javidi for his “seminal contributions to passive and active multi-dimensional imaging from nano- to micro- and macro-scales,” according to the award citation.

The award is one of a long line of accomplishments during his career, which include: Being named one of the top 160 engineers between the ages of 30-45 by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE); the Quantum Electronics and Optics Prize for Applied Aspects by the European Physical Society; the Dennis Gabor Award in Diffractive Wave Technologies from The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE); the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for senior US Scientists in all disciplines; the SPIE Technology Achievement Award; the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award; and the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

At UConn, he has received the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) Research Excellence Award; the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees Distinguished Professor Award; the UConn Alumni Association Excellence in Research Award; and the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award, among others.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA), Fellow of the European Optical Society (EOS), Fellow of The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IoP), and Fellow of The Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T). Javidi has over 900 publications and 19 patents, some of which have been licensed by industry.

Javidi is also the director of the MOSIS Lab (Multidimensional Optical Sensing and Imaging Systems), which is focused on advancing the science and technology of imaging, by centering on the fields of optics, photonics, and computational algorithms and systems, from nano to macro scales. MOSIS works with, and finds solutions for, partners in the defense, manufacturing, healthcare, and cybersecurity industries.

Click here to learn more about the Joseph Fraunhofer Award / Robert M. Burley Prize from The Optical Society.

Author: Remembering Dr. John Enderle, The Educator and The Nurturer

Dr. John Enderle and his wife, Laurie Enderle. (photo courtesy of Laurie Enderle)

Originally by: Heidi Douglas, Director of Alumni Relations, UConn School of Engineering 

Professor Emeritus John D. Enderle, 65, of Ashford, CT passed away on April 2, 2018 after a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  A loving husband, father, brother, friend, colleague and mentor, Dr. Enderle enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a professor and inspirational leader, admired for his unfailing dedication and support for students, a legacy honored by his family establishing the John Enderle Fund memorial scholarship.

UConn Electrical and Computer Engineering department head from 1995-1997, John was founding director of the undergraduate Biomedical Engineering program in 1997. His passion for research and advising his students are storied with commendations describing him as “the greatest professor,” having a “major influence in my life over the past 20 years,” and “always had patience to help me pursue my goals.”

John earned his B.S., M.E., and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering, and an M.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He worked at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was as a professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU) prior to joining UConn.

In addition to his teaching and research, John also served in many capacities for several professional societies, was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, a former Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Program Evaluator for Bioengineering Programs and member of the Engineering Accreditation Commission. He was Editor of the NSF Book Series on NSF Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities. At the time of his death, John was working on a fourth edition of his seminal undergraduate textbook for biomedical engineering, Introduction to Biomedical Engineering.

A particularly metaphorical tribute to John celebrates his passion for gardening. A painting by former student Dr. G. Alexander Korentis depicts an espalier apple tree with John’s name followed by all his Ph.D. students’ names in an upward succession of branches. The frame bears a plaque with a quote from Warren Buffett, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

John Enderle planted a tree for all of his students.

 Donations may be made in memory of John Enderle to the “John Enderle Fund” in the UConn School of Engineering. Please make checks payable to: The UConn Foundation, Inc. and forward to the following address: 2390 Alumni Drive Unit 3206, Storrs, Connecticut 06269.

Author: Senior Design: Building The “Heart and Soul” of an Electric Car

Ortega-Hernandez, Tshipamba, and Biron look over their EMRAX motor in the Castleman Building Machine Shop (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

Twenty years ago, if you stood on a sidewalk and watched cars go by, chances are high that you would see little-to-no electric cars driving down the street. In 2017, electric car sales were higher than ever, with nearly 200,000 all-electric cars sold in the U.S. With the popularity of models from Tesla, BMW, and Chevy, consumers are starting to warm to the idea of charging their car, rather than filling it with gasoline. Because of that popularity, four Senior Design teams, including an electrical and computer engineering team featuring seniors Daryl Biron; Ernesto Ortega-Hernandez; and Alain Tshipamba, are working to complete an all-electric car for a national competition in June.

The portion of the car that Biron, Ortega-Hernandez, and Tshipamba are working on is the “heart and soul” of the vehicle—the powertrain. The sponsor of the project, the UConn Electric Motorsports, was originally formed in the spring of 2017, with the intention of getting like-minded students together to build a car that could compete in Formula North, a collegiate competition taking place during in the summer of 2018. The advisor of the team is Professor Ali Bazzi. 

Biron said he originally got involved after having interest in the club in the spring 2017 semester:

“I got involved with the club personally, in the spring semester last year, and at that time there were only two electrical engineers involved, and with an electric car, you need a lot more than just two,” Biron said. “So, I was pretty much thrown onto the powertrain team, which is essentially everything that the motor controls, and I didn’t really know much, so I had to do a lot of research on my own, which became easier when Ernesto and Alain came onboard.”

The EMRAX motor provides 80 kilowatts of power, equivalent to 107 horsepower (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)

The car itself will have a chassis made of inch-thick aluminum honeycomb sheets, which will make it one of the lightest and most torsionally rigid chassis seen in completion, according to the UCEM website. The car will also use pieces and materials that will make the car extremely flexible and ergonomic, with components like adjustable pedals and a removable seat.

The permanent magnet motor, which the group only received recently, after a wait of a few months, was designed by EMRAX, and provides 80 kilowatts of power, equivalent to 107 horsepower. Ortega-Hernandez said they had to jump through a lot of hoops before the motor arrived at its destination:

“Initially we had some funding problems, which were later solved, but when we went to order the motor, we ran into issues, because it was coming from Europe, EMRAX required a wire transfer for payment, and they weren’t an approved UConn vendor. So, luckily, EnviroPower, the company where Daryl interns, offered to become a vendor, and then ordered the motor through their channels—but when all was said and done, the entire purchasing process took three months.”

The rest of the powertrain consists of an emDrive300H Controller from Emsiso, and several other components, which will connect to a battery apparatus being constructed by another ECE team.

Tshipamba also said that getting all the calculations fined-tuned was one of their biggest early challenges:

“Luckily, when we went to our advisor, he really helped us find out what we were doing wrong. Originally, we had issues with the simulation models, which were due to using parts from different libraries that didn’t communicate well, and were also not adjusted to our parameters regardless of tuning, so we realized that we had to create our own parts based on the mathematical model.”

But Biron said that a lot of these impediments eventually turned into worthwhile accomplishments:

“Actually, getting the motor and fixing our mathematical models was a huge breakthrough for us,” Biron said. “At one point, we were talking about ordering the motor the beginning of November, but obviously things got in the way.”

Now that they have the motor, all their components, and all of the modeling squared away, the group is looking forward to getting to work, and putting their focus towards putting all the pieces together for April and beyond.


Biron holds the EMRAX motor, which sits next to the Emsiso emDrive300H Controller. (Amanda Wright/UConn Photo)

With good intentions in mind, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Senior Design team of Daryl Biron, Ernesto Ortega-Hernandez, and Alain Tshipamba set out to build not only the powertrain of an electric car, but also realize their dream of seeing it race in the summer.

The portion of the car that Biron, Ortega-Hernandez, and Tshipamba are working on is the “heart and soul” of the vehicle—the powertrain. The sponsor of the project, the UConn Electric Motorsports Club, was originally formed in the spring of 2017, with the intention of getting like-minded students together to build a car that could compete in Formula North, a collegiate competition taking place during in the summer of 2018. The advisor of the team is Professor Ali Bazzi. 

Unfortunately, due to multiple factors, Biron said that the car will not be ready for Formula North this summer:

“There’s a lot that has gone into this car, and funding has been an issue, so even this upcoming summer, when Senior Design finishes, the club probably won’t be closing in on finishing the car, but will be thinking about the overall design, and how we can make it better,” Biron said. “So, odds are it won’t be fully built until January 2019.”

When the car is officially completed, it will have a chassis made of inch-thick aluminum honeycomb sheets, which will make it one of the lightest and most torsionally rigid chassis seen in competition, according to the UCEM website. The car will also use pieces and materials that will make the car extremely flexible and ergonomic, with components like adjustable pedals and a removable seat.

The permanent magnet motor, which the group only received in February, after a wait of a few months, was designed by EMRAX, and provides 80 kilowatts of power, equivalent to 107 horsepower.

Biron holds the EMRAX motor, which sits next to the Emsiso emDrive300H Controller. (Amanda Wright/UConn Photo)

The rest of the powertrain consists of an emDrive300H Controller from Emsiso, and several other components, which will connect to a battery apparatus being constructed by another ECE team. Unlike the ordering of the motor, which was long and drawn out, Biron said the ordering of the controller was extremely easy:

“The ordering of the motor controller was much smoother, and it actually came in a couple of weeks earlier than we anticipated,” Biron said. “The only problem we encountered was that on the website, it said we would be able to use any USB-to-CAN adapter to connect to our computer to program it, but after we ordered it we found out that we needed to order a special adapter from the company.”

Biron said if they used a standard adapter, then they wouldn’t have been able to see any of the real-time graphs or data logging, so they attempted to jerry-rig it, but, unfortunately, they found out that they ultimately need to buy the special adapter.  

But the powertrain, which was the team’s focus for Senior Design, will absolutely be ready to go for Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 27, according to Biron:

“We’re going to put all the parts completely together into one system before Senior Design Day, and then we’ll begin testing,” Biron said. “Then, since I don’t think we’ll be able to integrate the system into the car, we’ll have to work on a test demo for Senior Design Day, showing how we control the motor and get it to spin correctly.”

Asked about the whole year-long process, Ortega-Hernandez said that it’s definitely been a long road, but has also been a great experience:

“I think I’ll feel accomplished when I actually see that motor spin, and we confirm that we’re seeing the correct speed and torque,” Ortega-Hernandez said. “It’s been a frustrating and tough process, but we’re definitely proud of the work we’ve put in and the final result.”

The team’s final product will be presented on Senior Design Day, April 27, from 1-4 p.m., in Gampel Pavillion. To attend the event, please RSVP by clicking this link.