Systems Engineering

Research in Systems Engineering involves the engineering and evaluation of large-scale interdisciplinary problems made up of multiple, heterogeneous, and distributed systems. Colorado State University’s research contributions to the field of Systems Engineering are both theoretical and applied, and involve applications such as transportation systems, health care systems, vehicle fuel economy and pollution control, telecommunications networks, combat threat analysis, food and energy production and distribution, strategic political and military response, and environmental pollution control.

The graduate specialty is designed to prepare students for research and teaching careers. Its aim is to provide a strong disciplinary background in mathematical and statistical modeling, and to give the student exposure to computational issues in large-scale problem solving and decision making.  The areas of study includes probability and stochastic processes, simulation, engineering economics, design of experiments, quality and process control, linear and nonlinear optimization, stochastic optimization, dynamic programming, expert systems, supply chain management, resource management, inventory management, risk analysis, logistics, human factor and ergonomics, production planning, facilities layout, workplace design, time and motion study, and scheduling.  Both on-campus and distance programs are available to graduate students in the Systems Engineering graduate group.

Some of the research applications in this program include Industrial Engineering/Operations Research/Engineering Management.

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Featured Projects

Plug in Hybrid Vehicle Charging Behavior Modeling (funded by EPRI)
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a type of hybrid electric vehicle that can use stored energy from the electric grid to propel the vehicle. As such, PHEVs owners must pay to fuel their vehicle with both gasoline and electricity. Time of use (TOU) rates are a type of electricity rate structure where the cost of electricity varies with time of day. The Utility industry seeks to understand how to design TOU rates that can send robust incentives to consumers, directing them to minimize their fueling costs and concurrently minimize the grid impact of their PHEV. CSU researchers and students have been performing these types of analyses inclusive of considerations of driving behavior, charging behavior, economic decision making, and more. This work will help Utilities to understand how their rate structures can incentivize consumers to charge inexpensively during off-peak conditions. (see EcoCar2)

Architecting of Vehicle to Grid Command and Control Systems (funded by EPRI, and US Department of Energy (ARRA)
Researchers have proposed that fleets of plug-in hybrid vehicles could be used to perform ancillary services for the electric grid. In many of these studies, the vehicles are able to accrue revenue for performing these grid stabilization services, which would offset the increased purchase cost of plug-in hybrid vehicles. To date, all such studies have simplistically assumed a vehicle command architecture that allows for a direct and deterministic communication between the grid system operator and the vehicle. CSU researchers and students proposed that an aggregative vehicle command architecture could improve the function of V2G networks as measured by these networks’ availability, reliability and the value of vehicle-provided ancillary services. This research incorporates a new level of detail into the modeling of vehicle-to-grid ancillary services by incorporating probabilistic vehicle travel models, time series ancillary services pricing, ancillary services reliability, actuation signal energy content, vehicle driving history, and more.

Design Methods for Fuel-Cell-Powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Sponsored by United Technologies Research Center and Air Force Research Lab)
Small-scale electrically-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently in use performing a variety of reconnaissance and remote sensing missions. For these missions, electrically-powered UAVs are generally preferred to small-scale internal combustion UAVs because of their low cost, reliability in the field, physical robustness and simple rechargability. A desire for longer endurance than is available from the current generation of commercially available batteries has motivated the development of electrical UAV powerplants with higher specific energy including fuel cell powerplants. The design of fuel cell powerplants specific to this application is complicated by design requirements (such as high specific energy, altitude tolerance) that are in opposition to the requirements for more conventional, automotive applications. CSU researchers and students have been developing multidisciplinary optimization and design methods for application to fuel cell UAV powerplants that have been implemented in a series of test vehicles.

Microalgae-Based Biofuels Life Cycle Assessments (Sponsored by NAABB and Solix Biofuels)
These projects have researched and evaluated metrics of net energy, net greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and the scalability of microalgae-derived biodiesel cultivated in Solix-type hybrid photobioreactors. These analyses are complicated by the lack of commercial-scale microalgae cultivation data, by large uncertainty regarding the sources and sinks for nutrients, water, land and coproducts, and a convergence of economic, policy, and technological design requirements. CSU is fortunate to be able to partner with Solix Biofuels to share commercial-scale data and a long-term vision for the industry. The results of these studies have defined the system-level sustainability metrics that can be used to evaluate the current and future viability of the nascent microalgae based biofuels industry.