NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – An OU electrical engineering professor has taken a 1940’s home and transformed it to to a full-scale research lab.

It’s giving students real-world experience in studying electrical energy.

The 1940’s bungalow near OU’s campus may not look like much – but it’s having a big impact. 

“It’s just surprising – the single project became the test bed for the entire almost college of engineering students’ playground,” said Li Song, Ph.D., an engineering professor at OU. 

A few years ago, Song needed a laboratory, and in 2019 this house, made possible by research funding from the Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and OG& E, filled that need. 

Song had seen previous research on smart, WiFi thermostats – with researchers analyzing usage data – but she wanted to take a deeper dive into their physical systems. 

First, she needed to give the old home a bit of a facelift. 

“After we converted the House to fully 100% electricity powered, we have more devices to test with,” Song said. “So that does make our research more challenging, more interesting, and then we can deliver a more cutting edge result.”

Students got creative, working with a tight budget, to outfit the home with more than 50 channels of sensors. 

“You’ll see they either measure air temperature or the wall surface temperature,” Song said. “The wall surface temperature, we have interior, exterior.”

In the home and remotely, students are able to analyze data from the house and a dozen other thermal home models in Oklahoma, Miami, Fl., and Washington state.

Over the last few years, almost 20 engineering students have used it for everything from undergraduate research to capstone projects and a master’s thesis. 

“This is actually something needed for student training, education purposes,” Song said. “So with that in mind, we want to sustain the operation of this house.”

Funding is always needed to help keep this project and others like it going. 

If you can and would like to help, click here