I-Corps: Digital and Scientific Literacy and Training Solutions for Green Energy and Environmental Engineering

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Innovation Corps (I-Corps) project incorporates virtual reality technology in training and education for green energy.

The United States Green Energy sector has seen multi-billion dollar investments in the past decade with an intention to reduce dependency on oil and coal and curb greenhouse gas emissions. As such, there is a constant demand for a qualified workforce to fill the open job positions in this industry sector. The challenge in this market is that the current infrastructure for training students, technicians, and engineers falls short to meet this demand as traditional methods to teach green energy technologies requires huge dollar investments in hardware (solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-electric setups), labs, qualified teachers/trainers, and field trips. The proposed innovation addresses this challenge by providing a web-based software system that uses a combination of desktop based Virtual Reality technology and low-cost computer hardware technologies for green energy and environmental engineering literacy and training. Once commercialized successfully, the proposed innovation is expected to provide learners in schools, universities, community colleges, and training companies, with digital and scientific skills training for entry-level job positions in the clean energy sector at a fraction of current costs. This will ultimately help fulfill the demand for an appropriately trained and qualified workforce in the rapidly growing clean energy sector in United States.

From a technical perspective, the main goal of this project is to design, develop, test, and commercialize a cloud-based software system that uses modern desktop virtual reality (VR) technology and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) paradigm to teach topics in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. This goal is achieved by leveraging VR software and low-cost open-source hardware to connect via wirelesss (Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Wi-Fi technologies) and wired fast-Ethernet technologies. The results obtained from this work will contribute to the ongoing challenges that span VR for education, IoT technologies, and network requirements and behavior for next generation Internet applications. There are several possible customer segments with common needs. One is academic institutions such as research and teaching universities, community colleges across the US, and high schools and middle schools that need to educate their students in the fields of green energy and environmental engineering. Another segment might be parents of 8-14 year old children who want their children to be digitally and scientifically literate in the aforementioned areas. The team's goal with the I-Corps is to quickly identify the most profitable sub-segment(s)in the two possible customer segments and design go-to-market strategies for the sub-segment(s). As such, the team would like to calibrate its pricing models by taking into account different revenue models such as Software-as-a-Service or one-time purchase.

Effective start/end date4/1/1612/31/17


  • National Science Foundation: $50,000.00


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