2 UNL-led engineering teams place highly in Smarter Planet Challenge

A Nebraska team with its GIS-based Wind Farm Suitability and Planning Study earned Top 5 status in the 2012 Smarter Planet Challenge, an international competition for college/university teams to improve the world’s technology solutions. The competition is sponsored by IBM and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Led by UNL electrical engineering graduate students Salman Kahrobaee of Tehran, Iran, and Dingguo Lu of Hangzhou, China, team members also included UNL GIS and remote sensing students Tarlan Razzaghi of Tehran, Anthony L. Nguy-Robertson of Mooresville, Ind., and David Gibbs of Earlysville, Va.

Lu and Kahrobaee had worked on the initial concept in a wind energy class taught by Jerry Hudgins, professor and chair in UNL’s electrical engineering department. They further developed the project with their collaborators and Don Rundquist, a professor in the School of Natural Resources, to help layer data on site topography, wind patterns and other environmental factors for more informed and effective placement of wind turbines.

“It’s great that what we learned in class can apply to real challenges,” Lu said.

Kahrobaee added, “It was fun to work on this project with students from other disciplines.”

Their team’s $1,000 prize will help them refine the project for potential commercialization.