Interns Use DETERLab Tools To Model & Evaluate School To “Off Grid”

During the summer, Dr. Alefiya Hussain hosted seven high school students from Chadwick School to do a five-week internship at USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI). The internship focused on leveraging the experimentation tools in DETERLab to model and evaluate the process of making the Chadwick campus an energy sustainable environment.

The primary question the high school interns aimed to answer: Can Chadwick produce enough solar energy to completely go “off the grid” and sustain itself by developing resilient intra-building energy trading?

On July 29th the Chadwick interns presented the results of their research to their ISI host division audience. They first delved into the background of what defines a smart city and how it relates to the smart grid, and the importance of factoring in energy grid production shifts (in particular, drops) in order to achieve 'consumption self-sustainability' for their project model (Chadwick School).

The students also pointed to some of the benefits of smart technology in their presentation, such as improved service for consumers in terms of adequate supply during peak demand and reduction of the carbon footprint (fossil emissions) due to efficiencies created by independent reserve systems (apart from the main electric grid). Solar energy production, for example, is a way to realize self-reliance by augmenting a building’s infrastructure to collect and store energy reserves (emissions free) to use “off grid” and/or trade excess with partners to supplement their usage demand especially during times of grid production short-fall.

As part of the students’ DETERLab experience, they learned how to use MAGI which is the experiment workflow management system tool that assists experimenters in conducting deterministic networking experiments. What this means is that MAGI enables non-random orchestration of event streams, repeatable enactment of procedure, and controlled data management for experiments (to realize the same output from an initial state). In using MAGI, students gained experience in working with NS files (discrete-event computer network simulators used in research and development) and multi-node experiments. With this knowledge the group developed several models for energy consumption and generation for different school buildings and set up negotiation and arbitration processes across the Chadwick campus.

The next chapter or steps in the interns’ research is to evaluate the impact of cyber attacks and how to defend against them.

The presentation was described as being both sophisticated and extraordinary by ISI’s Internet and Networked Systems division director. A great compliment to Dr. Hussain and the talented high school interns of Chadwick.

A copy of the presentation that summarizes their results is located at: