Roshanak Ashrafi, a Ph.D. candidate in the interdisciplinary Infrastructures and Environmental Systems (INES) program, recently received third place for her oral presentation at the 2022 Graduate Research Symposium. The INES program is housed in the William Lee States College of Engineering and includes faculty from multiple departments across the university, including the School of Architecture. Dr. Mona Azarbayjani (architecture) and Dr. Hamed Tabkhi (engineering) jointly mentor Ashrafi, who will graduate in the spring of 2023.
Ashrafi’s project, “A Contactless Non-Intrusive Approach for Personalized Thermal Comfort Model Development,” represents multi-year research into “smart building” technology that can monitor occupants’ body temperatures from a distance, without the need for direct person-to-person contact. Since thermal condition – room temperature – is an important factor affecting a person’s comfort, productivity, and wellbeing, Ashrafi’s research points toward the development of personal comfort models that could make buildings more pleasant and healthful places for occupants and also potentially reduce overall energy use.
The project uses sophisticated Artificial Intelligence and thermal and RGB camera technologies to gather facial temperature data while protecting individual privacy. First funded by a 2020 Seed Grant from the School of Data Science, the research subsequently earned a 2021 National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to expand the investigations and use the real-time data gathering to identify symptoms of illness to reduce the spread of diseases.