Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Urban Flows Sensor Competition Success for SELA Graduate

SELA Graduate, Yun-Hang Cho, has won the Sensor Build competition with the Urban Flows Observatory. Yun was an active member of the inaugural SELA cohort, and is currently studying for a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

The competition, sponsored by Siemens and Autodesk, invited engineers across Sheffield to present their innovative sensor designs on improving air quality, health or energy efficiency. It was Hosted by the Urban Flows Observatory, which is part of a wider group of UK Urban Observatories, addressing issues of infrastructure development. The Urban Flows Observatory aims to bring together fixed, mobile, atmospheric and satellite data that measure a range of environmental and physical criteria across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. This will provide the opportunity to deploy advanced data fusion techniques to create a dynamic understanding of the flows of energy and resources in the city that is globally leading.

Working in a team of two, Yun pitched the pair's concept at ARUP Sheffield. Their idea involved internet of things multi-use technology, designing a low-cost, USB powered, remote sensing platform which uses ethernet, USB, WiFi or mobile signal to collect and transmit data. Yun focused on designing and building the prototype structure, whilst his teammate Gianni Heung, programmed the sensors.

By monitoring a range of harmful gases such as Butane or Methane, and air properties such as temperature, pressure and humidity, their design will help researchers predict the pollutant distribution across the region. The low-cost device’s capabilities can be expanded to include wind and rain sensors making this the ultimate portable USB powered weather station. The winners will now have the opportunity to commercialise their entry with support from USE, Sheffield Technology Parks and Siemens.

On winning the competition, Yun said ‘The Urban Flows Sensor Build competition enabled me to bring together the various technical skills that were required. To construct the structure in a way that still allowed easy internal access required some thoughts on the mechanical design whilst wiring the sensors utilised a lot of the electronics and programming skills I learn from ACSE. Finally, my PhD in remote sensing from the Department of Civil Engineering gave me a deeper understanding of the impact of low-cost, remote-sensing devices.’

Yun also reflected on how his experiences as a SELA student provided him with the skills and knowledge to be successful in the competition, stating ‘On the non-technical side, SELA was a platform for me to practise presentation and networking skills, this undoubtedly formed a key part of why I won. PESTLE analysis which was conducted in the SELA Hyperloop project also contributed to my appreciation of the wider factors which affect stakeholders. Working in a highly intensive environment with emphasis on time and project management also prepared me for the sensor build competition.’

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