“How can we distribute electricity underground?”
Most of the time, when we think of electricity distribution, we think of overground cables. However, sometimes cables can be laid underground. This allows for an area to have a better aesthetic and the wires to be less prone to earthquakes, wind, or malfunctioning. On the flipside, doing so is much more expensive and difficult.
Design for the Environment
“How can we design items so that they are not harmful to human health and the environment?”
Traditionally, human-made items and products have been designed without regard for the environment. However, how can we use our engineering mindset differently? Well, through one method known as Design for the Environment, items will be designed such that processing, manufacturing, packaging, and energy efficiency of their life-cycle will use as little resources as possible.
Biogas from Pig Farms
“How can we make sure to not waste pig waste?”
Every day, pigs in farms make waste. And oftentimes this waste is thought to be useless. However, energy officials from Duke University think a bit differently. Plans are being made to create an energy system that can take in pig waste in surrounding North Carolina farms and use it as power. Therefore, we can create biogas from pig farms!
“How can we quantify the ratio between momentum and thermal diffusivity?”
For fluids flowing over an object’s surface, momentum and heat will be transferred, oftentimes at different rates. How quickly one changes with respect to the other will completely affect its properties. As a result, engineers have devised something known as the Prandtl Number, which compares the diffusivity of momentum and heat as a ratio, symbolized as pr = c_p*Mu/k with C_p being the specific heat capacity of a gas at constant pressure, Mu being the dynamic viscosity and k the thermal conductivity.
Non-Inverting Op Amp
“How can we make an Op-Amp amplifier without inverting the output?”
Inverting Op-Amps are great for changing the sign of a signal, However, sometimes we would like to simply amplify instead of invert. So how can we accomplish this using our engineering mindset? Well, What if we were to simply reverse the inputs to the op-amp? That way, we can create a Non-Inverting Op Amp, whose gain is represented by 1+R2/R1, with R2 being the second resistor and R1 being the first.
Solar Ramp Rate Control
“How can people control the ramp rate of solar?”
Solar energy is growing at a rate that makes the adoption of computer technology look feeble. However, with this increased adoption comes increased instabilities, such as extreme variability in power generation. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, we know that if we were to add something to dampen the sudden influx of energy, we can smoothen out operations. So what if we were to add a form of Ramp Rate Control through techniques such as batteries and control strategies? Well, it turns out that this is the exact idea behind many modern grid control strategies.
“How can we compare two different voltage levels using an Op-Amp?”
Machines often have a multitude of sensors. And sometimes we would like to compare different values from these inputs to see which is larger. So how can we do this on the circuit itself? Well, we know that Op-Amps can handle two inputs at a time. And we also know that the type of values provided into the input will affect the output of the Op-Amp. So what if we were to use an Op-Amp that would output a voltage level to compare the two inputs? Well, this is known as an electronic comparator and is a fundamental of mechatronic systems.