It’s called a “UFO” because of its disk shape and glowing lights, but for Sayville Senior John Farese, the device took him where he has never gone before—to the International Olympiad as one of eight New York State students chosen to compete in the Energy Division.
Farese’s close encounter with the UFO Power Center was the result of being in the right place at the right time, but his creative spin on the data it collected propelled him into an under-explored realm of energy conservation in ordinary homes.
The UFO device, (which was designed by Marco Graziano of Visible Energy, and distributed by Home Performance Technologies) measures the “phantom loads”—energy still being used even though the electronic equipment appeared “off”—from appliances that are plugged into its hub. The app for the UFO Power Center, which remotely measures and controls wattage consumption, can be downloaded to an iPad from the iTunes Application Store.
Under the guidance of Sayville’s Science Research Teacher Maria Brown, Farese has participated in the Sayville RISE (Research In Science and Engineering) program for the past four years. After his freshman year, he worked in the Minority Science Mentoring Program at BNL, and after his junior year, was accepted into the High School Research Program at BNL where he was assigned to the Sustainable Energy Group under the mentorship of Dr. Vatsal Bhatt.
While gaining knowledge about sustainable energy, Farese attended a presentation by a special guest speaker Mark Gunthner of Home Performance Technologies, who not only talked about innovative energy technologies related to current national energy problems but showed the students how the Ipad/iphone technology (STEM) worked with the UFO to measure phantom loads.
Inspired by their “first contact” with this UFO, “John and a few other students designed an interactive ‘game,’” Brown explained, “that could be used by all ages to learn more about energy efficiency and wasted energy from phantom loads.”
That is when Farese hit upon his research project to measure the “phantom loads” in his own home. “The purpose of this project,” he wrote in his abstract,” is to present a model for New Yorkers to reduce their energy consumption by evaluating phantom loads to develop individualized Energy Management Plans for the home owner and ultimately as a model for industry and commercial buildings.”
In his research on energy reduction, which has won him acclaim as a competitor in the Olympiad, Farese analyzed the electronics in a variety of rooms, calculated the “wasted” energy from the home, made projections for New York State and the nation as a whole, and designed a personal energy-conservation plan for his family so as to eliminate phantom load energy waste. Readers can read Farese's Abstract (which summarizes his project and findings and a video presentation) at the Sayville School district website.
"This is a topic,” explained Mark Gunthner of HPT, Inc, “—energy reduction—that is tremendously important and tremendously popular with the highest levels: businesses, community leaders, and political leaders, right from the Obama Administration and down….all types of research having to do with energy efficiency and renewable energy is extremely important. We new our students to learn about it early.”
At the Olympiad contest, offered through the I-SWEEEP (International Sustainable World Engineering, Energy & Environment Project), Farese will be presenting his innovative project. He will join the other, stellar, young researchers who have accepted today’s challenges in energy, engineering, and environment in hopes of making a better tomorrow. Airfare for both Farese and Brown to attend the Olympiad competition was provided by Mark Gunthner's company Home Performance Technologies, Inc.