Laboratory Module to Introduce Undergraduates to Air Quality Research
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An interactive laboratory module is being developed to introduce undergraduate engineering students to environmental engineering as part of an introductory course. This lab module will provide students an opportunity to experience hands-on engineering, computer programming, and research development skills to design an Air-Quality Unit (AQU) for real-time data-collection. This module will encourage students to use the scientific method to create a hypothesis based on their observations regarding their surroundings. Students will then develop an experiment with the AQU to test their hypothesis. Each AQU will contain a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) K-30 sensor to detect C02. A Bosch Sensortec BME280 for measuring humidity/pressure/temperature; and an Alphasense OPC-N2 optical particle monitor that measures PMI .0, PM2.5, and PM 10. All sensors are wired to a Raspberry Pi3 model B (RPi3) microprocessor that automates data collection. The RPi3 transmits data via a direct on-site ethernet connection or Adafruit Fona Cellular Breakout to an Amazon Web Services database. An Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout is also connected to the RPi3 to ensure accurate time and location. Students operate the RPi3 through a Linux interface to run specific scripts written in the Python programming language. These AQU's are modeled after the streetlight sensor units deployed in Spokane, WA by WSU researchers for the Urbanova Project. The Urbanova Project is a combined effort to develop Spokane into a sustainable city that utilizes smart city technologies and applications to improve infrastructure, public safety, energy, transportation and waste management. An ongoing WSU REU is focused on deploying the second set of AQU's that will transmit data to a cloud-based data-base in real-time. This network will provide information regarding temperature, pressure, humidity, C02, and particulate matter concentration. This program will educate the public on their air-quality as well as allow researchers to study the health impacts of various concentrations of particulate matter.