Abstract: Teaching electrical network control problems, such as droop control in power systems, is challenging (in part) because electrical systems are difficult to effectively visualize. Existing approaches do not generally provide students with an effective, intuitive understanding of the concepts. To address this problem, this paper describes a mechanical power grid simulator, MechGrid, and the development of a distributed primary frequency (droop) control system for MechGrid. This system provides the opportunity for hands-on and exploratory lab experiments for students learning frequency droop control. The paper presents the design of a motor controller board based on the Arduino platform, which implements a droop control system with adjustable parameters. An example laboratory experiment is then presented to demonstrate the operation of the control system and its usefulness as a teaching tool. Learning objectives for this lab are also discussed with emphasis on the benefits of the MechGrid platform for teaching droop control concepts.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).