UTC Wins National Award For Engineering Research Project

Friday, February 16, 2018

A research project at UTC has been named one of the 50 best in the country. 

The Underground Infrastructure Sensing project, headed by UTC’s Dr. Dalei Wu in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, was chosen by Smart Cities Connect Media and Research for the award. The project is a collaboration with Dr. Dryer Huston at the University of Vermont. 

“We are thrilled to know that our project was recognized by this award,” Dr. Wu says. “Success with this research will enable cities to manage, maintain and grow their underground infrastructure in manners that improve service, sustainability and resilience, while reducing costs, energy consumption and wasted resources.” 

CARTA, Chattanooga’s mass transit system, also is a Smart Cities award winner for a separate project that involved solar-assisted charging for electric vehicles. 

In the UTC/UV project, equipment such as radar and magnetic sensors search underground to document the location and condition of water and sewer pipes, electrical conduits, fiber optic lines and other infrastructure. The data is fed into high-speed computers at the SimCenter and turned it into spreadsheets, graphics and other easy-to-use documents. 

Documentation for underground infrastructure can be out of date or inaccurate, depending on the city, so data gathered by the sensing project can be used by city engineers, planners and maintenance supervisors, as well as construction companies, to locate pipes, conduits and other utilities before digging begins, reducing the danger of damaging critical equipment. 

The CARTA project was done in collaboration with Green Commuter Chattanooga, which supplies electric vehicles to rent. 

The project utilized the creation of about 20 electric-vehicle charging pods across the city that use solar power as part of their energy-storing technology. A fleet of 20 all-electric cars also were provided as a public car-share system. The project was integrated with CARTA, the city’s Electric Shuttle, bicycle lanes and public parking and, in the end, logged more than 55,000 vehicle miles using clean energy and reducing emission reductions. 

David Wade, president and CEO of EPB, which owns the fiber-optic network critical to both projects, says UTC’s research capabilities and “is one of several efforts in which UTC professors are leading research efforts that engage local officials and our community’s outstanding infrastructure assets in pioneering new ‘Smart City’ technologies.” 

Cooperation among UTC, EPB and other organizations in Chattanooga is setting the stage for even more growth in the city’s technology sector, says Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “Working together we can continue to position our community as a test-bed for next generation technologies,” she says.

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