[Please note that Sargent & Lundy LLC, sponsor of this IPRO topic, encourages students from various technical and non-technical disciplines to participate in this project because over several years, Sargent & Lundy has identified candidates for internships and career positions through the IPRO project.]
This IPRO project focuses on the question: What is the role of electric utilities in smart cities?
In the US, electric utilities and cities have developed an ongoing relationship that enables the continued operation of a reliable source of electricity to homes and businesses. The future of electric generation, transmission and distribution is changing due to many factors including lower cost renewable energy. At the same time, the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to develop physical devices and products that add a level of sophistication through control, data capture, instantaneous decision making and mapping analysis. These are all critical aspects needed to improve the operations, response time and livability of cities.
The wide distribution of utility systems covering the city landscape opens opportunities and challenges for city operations. What role does the electric utility currently play in the management of Smart Cities? What constitutes Smart Cities? How smart are contemporary urban centers? What devices and technology can be added to smart cities that improve existing conditions?
If distributed electric generation, mechanical and renewable, continues to be installed within Smart Cities, what role can the electric utility play in making the transition to a more efficient, resilient and responsive network of connected systems? Can city, utility and end users collectively design and construct new electrical systems that make efficient use of existing and new resources?
During the course of the project, the IPRO team will develop an understanding of the current development of Smart Cities and the related Internet of Things (IoT); Smart Microgrid system resiliency, safety and reliability; integration of renewable energy and energy storage; and the relationship between electric and thermal energy production, distribution, storage and use.
Through this IPRO project, students from all disciplines will develop an understanding about the future direction of power utilities and their technology and system developers compared to current practices. This can include students from various engineering fields, information technology and management, industrial technology and management, business, computer science, etc. Over several semesters, this IPRO project develops concepts and work product that are reviewed by professional staff of Sargent & Lundy staff that include IIT alums representing various units of the organization: renewable energy and information systems, and electrical, mechanical, chemical and environmental units.