Sharrin Manor: My Bass Connections Pathway

Originally posted by Duke Bass Connections

Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science ’16
Bass Connections Project Team: The University as a Laboratory for Smart Grid Data Analytics

I’m from southern California and I came to Duke for the amazing resources and opportunities available to undergraduates.

Energy is one of the biggest problems facing our world in the next 20 years. Big data is a tool we can take advantage of to get insight into how we’re using energy, and how we can use less. I have an engineering and computer science background, and I was interested in developing a product for consumers or utility companies.

Getting a bill once a month isn’t useful for reducing energy waste from appliances. With a smart grid, you can see the energy use and exactly how much each appliance is using every second.

Our project team focused on the Duke Smart Home. Using algorithms, we determined whether an appliance is turned on or off and how much energy it’s using, then we built a predictive model. So the same day there’s an anomaly, the system can send an alert and Duke can fix it immediately.

There was a mix of undergrads and grad students. In our research for the project we developed an idea of what the smart grid system in the U.S. is like, and how to apply the algorithm in real life. We met with people from all fields to figure out how a real world problem can be answered. Through this project I developed an understanding of the energy world and how I can be a part of it.

I’m doing the Data+ internship over the summer, analyzing the solar potential of rooftops. Kyle Bradbury is my main mentor. Next year I will be taking a data engineering class, and I’ll also be a teaching assistant for a freshman engineering class because I got a lot out of the mentoring from my Bass Connections project.

I was interested in how to tie electrical engineering and computer science with energy. Bass Connections is great for that. Bass Connections takes you a step outside the classroom and allows you to tie different skills together.

My advice to students is to develop good relationships with your peers and mentors—it makes the learning process more fulfilling and will help you in the future.