Equipment Donation Benefits College’s Building Automation Major

Jack F. Clift, left, vice president%2Fgeneral manager DVL Automation, and Todd S. Woodling, instructor of building automation technology%2FHVAC electrical, with some of the equipment donated to the building automation lab in the Carl Building Technologies Center.A regional distributor of Automated Logic’s Building Automation Controls equipment recently spearheaded a gift of $82,000 in instructional equipment to benefit students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s increasingly popular building automation technology major.

“The donation of the Building Automation System server, together with the Automated Logic WebCTRL application software and equipment level controllers, will allow the program at Penn College to prepare course work that seamlessly introduces students to the entire building-controls creation process,” said Jack F. Clift, vice president/general manager at the Bristol-based DVL Automation and coordinator of the gift.

Two other Pennsylvania dealers of Automated Logic’s systems Intercon Automation in Harrisburg and Logical Automation in Pittsburgh also participated in the donation.

Building automation technology, represented by a bachelor-degree major in the college’s School of Construction and Design Technologies, is the intelligent network of electronic devices that monitor and control a building’s heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and electrical systems. Building automation helps reduce energy and maintenance costs by monitoring occupancy, temperature, air quality, energy utilization and lighting levels, fire-alarm status and other internal conditions that affect the human environment, energy consumption and building integrity.

Facilities designed for compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Energy Star” ratings and/or the Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification require advanced building-control systems, which this donation will help prepare Penn College graduates to deliver.

“The first part of the creation of an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) control system for a building is the design-specification process that is the work of the mechanical design engineer for a project,” Clift explained. “The students will be able to interactively recreate the design requirements by utilizing a nonproprietary software tool called Control Spec Builder.”

Control Spec Builder is accessed over the Internet and allows any design professional to create HVAC-controls design specifications based upon the equipment types chosen for a particular project, he added.

“What’s unique with this control system is that each student has the capability to create, design and program his own collection of buildings and associated equipment; it starts basic and ends very advanced,” said Todd S. Woodling, an instructor of building automation technology/HVAC electrical at Penn College. “And because it’s Web-based, students will have the opportunity to access sites such as The Weather Channel and actually link the current temperature to their programming.”

Automated Logic’s systems are based on specifications developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers that are not manufacturer-specific and that are the basis for the most recent product offerings from Siemens, Johnson, Honeywell and TAC, Clift noted.

That knowledge should be highly transferable for Penn College students who work with those other manufacturers’ equipment and systems the systems are referred to as BACnet-compliant and must conform to the ASHRAE industrywide standard.

“The final key to the learning experience here is real application of the engineering developed in the lab,” Clift said. “The hardware donated by ALC represents building controllers for 10 separate buildings or for a 10-building campus. Each building has a network controller/router and separate controllers for a building air-handling unit and its variable volume terminal distribution box(es).”

This year’s junior class of building automation students a major that has grown from seven students to 43 will create the physical environment in the Building Automation Systems lab that will be the teaching platform for years to come. During the Fall 2008 semester, students will fashion “lab-sized” air-handling units that will be individually controlled by the classmates building applications for them.

William J. Stachnik, of Moscow, a building automation technology student who also is employed by DVL Automation, worked with Woodling to develop the teaching model as his senior-project requirement for May graduation.

“I provided technical support to Todd and developed a mock air-handling unit to simulate the capability of the new system.” he said. “Future students will benefit from any exposure to Automated Logic, BACNet programming and the tremendous functionality of WebCTRL a Web-focused application.”

Automated Logic systems are installed in commercial office buildings, industrial plants, health-care and educational facilities, government complexes, hospitality/entertainment venues and retail locations worldwide. Its clients range from small, family owned businesses to such leaders as Sun Microsystems, Harley-Davidson, Cisco Systems, UPS, Lockheed Martin, Conoco and DuPont-Merck.

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