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Barbie and BASpi Teach Young Women the Benefits of Building Automation

Contemporary Controls was pleased to assist Valencia College (and Barbie) to teach middle school students how building automation impacts energy management. The Florida-based community college offers an Energy Management and Controls Technology (EMCT) Associate in Science (A.S.) degree, a two-year program which trains students how to efficiently manage and control a building's electrical and mechanical systems using a broad range of current and emerging technologies.

At a middle school STEM outreach event for 3500 students, EMCT faculty converted a Barbie Grand Hotel into a "Smart" Hotel to demonstrate energy management in a commercial building.

BASpi and Barbie

The hotel was equipped with sensors and devices that interfaced to Contemporary Controls' BASpi I/O 12-point BAS expansion board (HAT) atop a Raspberry Pi 3, with software support from our free BAScontrol Toolset.

The I/O board turns a Raspberry Pi into a BACnet-networked, Sedona-programmable controller with 6 Universal Inputs and a choice of 6 Relay Outputs or 4 Relay and 2 Analog Outputs. The 6 Relay Output model (circled in the picture below) was used in this application. All 12 physical I/O points, in addition to 24 Virtual Points are served up over BACnet/IP using Ethernet or Wi-Fi. The unit is webpage configurable over Ethernet or Wi-Fi connections. The BAScontrol Toolset's Sedona Application Editor (SAE) allows users to create control applications by linking graphical components on a wiresheet.

BASpi and Barbie

Utilizing the SAE, students changed the temperature in the hotel and instantly saw a temperature increase or a fan turn on, giving them a hands-on example of temperature measurement and control concepts. "I honestly have never seen so many female students approach our table during an outreach event," said Deb Hall, Program Chair of the college's EMCT program.

Programs like EMCT are important as the need for qualified energy management technicians continues to rise. A recent report, published by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows that the energy workforce added almost 300,000 jobs (+3.8% growth) in 2022, outpacing the growth rate of the overall U.S. workforce, which grew by 3.1%. The energy industry showed growth across all technologies and expects this growth to continue. According to the report, although women make up just 26% of the energy workforce, the number of women working in the energy industry increased by 150,000 (+7.8%), meaning that more than half of the energy jobs added in 2022 were held by women. To ensure the opportunities for women in the energy workforce continues to grow, Valencia College also offers a Women in HVACR Scholarship Program.

At Contemporary Controls, we take great pride in our commitment to education and training as well as open controls. The Raspberry Pi provides low-cost computing power, making it an excellent training platform for control and automation applications. To learn how to customize your training using the BASpi I/O, visit the BASpi I/O product page.


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