P08427: LED Lighting Technologies for a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Venture

Interview with Dr. Amuso

Interviewers: C. Walsh, I. Frank, M. Benedict, S. Russel, W. Maung, N. Potopsingh
Faculty Member: Dr. V. Amuso, Department Head EEEE
Date: 1 October 2007
Location: RIT, Building 9, Room 2550

Interviewee Role: Dr. Amuso is one of the customers (potential sponsor for project), and a technical consultant (may be approached for advice or assistance anytime so long as there has been work done to discuss with him), cannot be a guide.

Interview Transcript

Q: What is your level of familiarity with LED lighting technology?
A: Led technology is relatively simple. I have been using LEDs for a long time. They are sophisticated at the circuit level, but integrating them into technology is relatively simple. The senior design project should not focus on designing a new LED, but using existing LEDs in a new technology.

Q: How exactly do LEDs run?
A: LEDs run only run on DC power. They can only let charge flow in one direction. Basically, it is a transistor device with two terminals. It would blow up if put across a voltage source. The current needs to run from the positive terminal to the negative terminal for it to work. The newer LEDs can handle more power dissipation. Light is brighter and the power they can handle is a lot higher. For the project, a device will be needed to change AC power to DC power.

Q: Would you suggest starting with an AC/DC converter instead of a transformer?
A: Not sure. If making an LED replacement bulb for a fluorescent, it would be an interesting problem. The replacement fluorescent light needs to radiate in a diffuse pattern. The transformer exists in a fluorescent light to excite the fluorescents. You can use it as plug-in point for the LED power input.

Q: What are the barriers for LED technology?
A: To start, there are electrical issues; problems with power conditioning and light patterning. Another problem is the light efficiency of the LED itself. Need to investigate the amount of light illuminated per the amount of power used. Also, the relationship between the current light bulbs and the LED needs to be investigated. Need to accomplish the same lighting for a different type of light bulb.

Q: Do you know of a illumination measuring device?
A: The best device is a light meter. You can get it at a photography shop, but they will probably be too expensive there. They will most likely be available on E-Bay. Before you buy one though, look at the data that is available online. Put a table together before the team joins to gather all the information for them to see.

Q: For developing nations applications, they use a textile sheet of fiber optics with LEDs along the outside. What do you think of this?
A:In order to put light into a fiber optic is to put on LED in it. That is an interesting way to look at it.

Q: A brief evaluation of last year's project.
A: It was a plug and play solution. They took existing technology and created the wind device from outside. Using wind is easier to make an DC signal than cleaning it up from an AC source and then converting it DC.

Q: A solar panel is DC, right?
A: Yes, when you store any energy it is stored as DC power, for example a battery is DC. I would store the power before using it because then you would never need to be in the AC world.

Q: Is there any budget set aside for the LED projects?
A: Since it is for RIT, talk with the different department heads in order to get money for the project. Being Electrical Engineering, I would probably be a customer for the project. I don't mind contributing $1000, but I will give you the money that I think that you need and that you deserve. It would depend on the worth of the project. Think of how you can make it the cheapest and the fastest way. Put some work and research into it before speaking to the customer about money.

Q: Do you see it as a project of replacing lighting or do you see some other path that it could take?
A: I can see five ways to go about completing this project:

  1. Fluorescent replacement - There is a big market available and it is not just applicable to RIT. There is a lot of potential there.
  2. Entire product (lamp) - It would need to look cool and be an LED light to attract the appropriate customers. People won't care that it uses LEDs, just that it look cool.
  3. Straight replacements - They don't need to be just fluorescents. It can also be an incandescent replacement. Think along the lines of screwing it right into the fixture.
  4. Cool application - Electricity is cheaper to buy at night than in the day. If you can find a way to store the energy at certain times when it is cheapest and then run it other times during the day, it would make a very sophisticated project. The device should know when to turn on and when to turn off. It should also be able to switch to current source versus the storage source when the storage source gets low on power.

Q: What if you were to attach a PV cell to recycle the daylight?
A: You would want something that can take 110, 220, and other DC sources. They should also be able to have a common design to handle all those different inputs, potentially.

Q: How should we go about gaining EEs?
A: You don't have to worry about that. You can choose your own team and give the information to Mark Smith, but they may also be assigned to you at the beginning of Senior Design. If you decide to choose your own team, there may not be enough people to go around. Big spreadsheets are developed for the projects that are going to run and who is required for each project. All of the assignments are determined by how many projects are going to run. If it comes to the fact that you don't have the appropriate people for your group, you shouldn't run the project. You need to scope how many people per team by speaking with Esterman, Amuso, and Hensel.

Q: Is it a good idea to create five intertwined projects with only two project leaders moving on to Senior Design?
A: If you six as a team can think of five separate projects that have a common theme between them, then the projects can continue without project leads. There needs to be some commonality between the different groups, however. If you find those five separate projects that can be done, write them down, but there is still the chance that they may not be picked up.

Q: What would be some recommended staffing requirements?
A: There is a lot of ME work that needs to be completed. A Mechanical Engineer, depending on the project, would need to look at things like heat dissipation and other thermal properties. Also, a fixture may need to be designed and built. For the lamp, you would need an Industrial Designer to make it look appealing. For replacing existing fixtures, an Industrial Designer would not be needed as much. For outside fixtures, yea, an Industrial Designer may be needed. For different applications you may not need an entire Industrial Designer, but someone to do some consulting work. To come up with the rest of your staffing requirements, break it down into AC and DC application or possibly just use the DC application, like solar cells. Remember not to design a completely new LED, just a new application. For staffing Electrical Engineers, if it is not a smart fixture, 1 good EE and 2 average EE is all that is needed. For a smart fixture, you would need at least 3 EE's - people to work on the controller and program the device. Could possibly use a CE.

Q: Any faculty guide recommendations?
A: George Slack, Professor Hoople (very good for this), for controller part - Dr. Paskin or Dr. Phillips. Guide should be guiding you on where to go, not necessarily a technical help. They still need to address some kind of commonality between the different groups.

Q: How do you suggest narrowing down the commonality for the five groups?
A: You should sit down to do a brainstorming session. Man the white board and write down the different potential applications. Make note of everything that is potential common between the different groups. Designate what the core design is and spec it out. Then, you should see how you would use it in the different types of lighting. Look at some parts that are already available and try to apply it to different groups. Need to keep up communication across all of the groups.

Quick critique on Presentation -
It's hard to give these types of presentations when it is a big group. I believe that the groups have a harder time presenting because you are trying to figure out how to break up the project into different applications. With a group, there is more pressure than when you are doing it alone. The LED group did a pretty good job when comparing with the other groups. Some advice would be to stray from the supplied template. Try to include pictures, block diagrams, and other visual representations to make the presentation more interesting and more understandable. Next time, there should be a clear commonality between all the projects as well as designated paths for each group to take. Present the commonality and then go into how the projects will diverge from each other. Don't backtrack for each different group.

Interpreted Needs

Here are several needs that were pulled from the interview with Dr. Amuso after talking with him: Identify Customer Needs
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