Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators have had to quickly and creatively learn how to teach hands-on training virtually. The BASpi-IO was instrumental in allowing Jenny Brinker, an Energy Management instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), to continue effectively teaching students how to assemble and program building control hardware and software.
"Our Energy Management Technology program teaches students how to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of a facility's energy consumption," said Brinker. "Students were limited with view-only learning about the controls in our Smart Grid Mobile Lab and Great Lakes Energy Education Center. When we switched to distance learning, we had to figure out how to give students hands on controls experience from their own home."
During her research for distance learning solutions, Brinker reached out to the Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center, which helps technical colleges like NWTC provide high-quality training programs in the HVAC, building automation and energy management. The BEST Center recommended the BASpi-IO, which is an I/O board that turns a Raspberry Pi into a BACnet connected, Sedona programmable controller.
The BASpi-IO is compatible with the free BASemulator, which is a software utility used to emulate full controller operation on PC. The open software and open DIY nature of the BASpi and the BASemulator give students the opportunity to assemble their own Sedona-programmable BACnet-networked controller. Brinker could monitor and assist student using her own copy of the BASemulator.
"The students each took home a BASpi-IO and a wiring kit. Using the BASemulator on their home computer, students were able to configure and program their BASpi controller to execute simple HVAC applications," said Brinker. This allowed students to learn the latest building automation techniques for effective energy management while adhering to the social distancing guidelines.
"Even though they weren't in the lab, students received hands-on training thanks to the BASpi-IO and BASemulator."