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ECE senior wins Ohio State Undergraduate Research Forum for Engineering and Architecture

Pictured left, John BrothersAn electrical and computer engineering (ECE) student working in power management won top honors at The Ohio State University’s ninth annual Undergraduate Research Forum.

Held each year to celebrate engineering and architecture undergraduate student research, the event took place on March 28 in the Thompson Library.

John Brothers, a senior in the ECE program, earned first place for his project, “A High Efficiency High Power Density Bidirectional DC-DC Converter for Battery Energy Storage.” His advisor is ECE Professor Jin Wang.

"It was an exciting experience participating in the Undergraduate Research Forum this year,” Brothers said. “It was fun meeting new people, learning about unheard of fields that others are passionate about, and sharing the research that I have been focusing on. I got to connect with familiar faces, make some new acquaintances, and practice my presentation skills. I was surprised and excited when I heard the final results.”

For the past year, Brothers said, his team was working on the 2018 International Future Energy Challenge sponsored by IEEE. Their work is getting noticed. 

“This year's competition is to develop a 1 kW DC-DC converter for battery energy storage. The challenge is to make it as small, efficient, and reliable as possible. This converter can both charge a battery pack with the energy generated by residential solar panels and discharge that stored energy to use in one's home,” he said.

This way, Brothers said, homeowners can still use their stored energy when the solar panels are not generating energy on cloudy days. He said the battery is also designed to use its energy when grid electricity prices are at their maximum, which further reduces electrical bills. The price of electricity changes throughout the day based on power plant output.  

“Our team has advanced through two rounds of eliminations and is excited to compete as the only American team of the final 10,” Brothers said. “We are currently preparing for the final competition which is held in Beijing, China in July.”  

Hosted by Ohio State’s College of Engineering, Knowlton School of Architecture and Tau Beta Pi, the Undergraduate Research for Engineering and Architecture welcomed students from all related scientific disciplines to share their research, regardless of the stage of progress. Projects ranging from the early planning phases to nearly completed senior theses were on display.

Faculty members, graduate students and industry partners judged the forum, providing feedback on the undergraduates’ posters and presentations. The judges recognized three students for their exemplary research and presentation skills.