Research and education - University of Illinois


Courtesy of Vista Engineering / Vista Data Vision

During the 2007-2008 academic year grants were awarded to Dr. Praveen Kumar and Dr. Art Schmidt in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois, to implement a new data collection system on the Urbana campus. The goal of this project is the deployment of sensors to provide high-resolution, semi-realtime datasets for research and education. The resulting data is published in semi-realtime over the campus wireless network and Ethernet, using Vista Data Vision at a departmental website ( This VDV-powered website makes the data available to instructors and students in the classroom, allowing the visualization of campus weather events and their effects, and comparison with past weather events. The data is also used by graduate students to research green roofing technology and the impacts of climate on Midwestern hydrology and agriculture.

The Business College at the University of Illinois recently opened a new LEED-certified Business Instructional Facility ( featuring a “green roof”. Green roofs are a technology which promises to transform the practice of sustainable design for large buildings, by 1) reducing stormwater management costs by absorbing and evaporating water during rainstorms, 2) reducing summer cooling costs using plants to absorb solar energy, and 3) reducing urban heat island and pollution island effects by increasing urban vegetation coverage. However, the advantages of green roofing must be researched, to improve future roofing methods and quantify the value of the technology. A pair of instruments on the Business Instructional Facility will help answer these research questions, by comparing a green roof with a traditional roof in the same location. Rain gages, solar energy sensors, runoff gages, and evaporation sensors are monitored by a Campbell Scientific CR1000 datalogger and published using VDV over the campus Ethernet.

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