Team of College of Engineering students receives National Defense Industrial Association Conference award

Alternative Energy Technology graduate students Jamal Adams (left), Andy Roberts, and Rahul Harish pose with the certificate they received from the National Defense Industrial Association for their team's Pre-positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kit (PEAK) project.

A team of six College of Engineering students, under the guidance of mechanical engineering professor Ming-Chia Lai, received the Dr. A Louis Medin award for their research poster at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)’s 12th Annual Science & Engineering Technology Conference/Department of Defense Tech Exposition, held this past June in Charleston, S.C. Their project involved the design and analysis of a Pre-positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kit (PEAK) to be used by the U.S. military for relief operations in hurricane-frequented Central America.

The kit was intended to address the challenge that the military faces in providing critical services like clean water, power and communications in support of distressed populations during a natural or human-made crisis while incorporating renewable energy systems.

The students began working on the project during the Winter 2011 semester in a Design and Systems Engineering course. The U.S. Department of Defense had approached Lai with the project to encourage university participation in the challenge. Provided with Department of Defense-specified requirements, the students in Lai’s course began working on ways to incorporate renewable energy systems in a PEAK kit.

“We chose to design the kit for Central America, as there is plenty of sunshine for solar panels, which were our main energy source,” says Rahul Harish, a graduate student in the Department of Alternative Energy Technology.

Other requirements for the kit included the ability to act as a shelter for up to 30 people, to be able to purify and use water from locally available water sources, to cook for up to 30 people at a time, to store energy on board for any time usage and to incorporate an HVAC system for all-weather use.

The project involved design analysis, energy calculations, thermal-fluid simulation, environmental impact, safety and packaging analysis, and economic considerations for the components individually and for the kit as a whole to attain the desired levels of performance and functionality for soldiers in the real world.

Harish, who was the only student from the team able to travel and present the project at the NDIA Conference, created the ‘PIKES’(Prefabricated Intermodal Key-Service Efficient Sustainable) PEAK with teammates Andy Roberts, Alternative Energy Technology graduate student; Jamal Adams, Alternative Energy Technology graduate student; Charles Wojdyla, Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student; Manan Trivedi, Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student ; and Mathew Fissette, Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student.

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