Laura Becerra

MIT Department: Mechanical Engineering

Undergraduate Institution: University of San Diego

Faculty Mentor: Evelyn Wang

Research Supervisor: Dan Preston

Websites: LinkedIn



I was born and raised in Stockton, California and am currently an electrical engineering major at the University of San Diego. I am pursuing a PhD in a realm of electrical engineering and my research interests revolve around robotics and controls, as well as materials science/engineering. When I am not studying, I love dancing, hanging out with friends, baking, and going on spontaneous adventures.

2017 Poster Presentation

2017 Research Abstract

Active Monitoring of Chemical Fume Hood Sash Position for Energy Conservation

Laura Becerra, Juan Ferrua, Maxwell Drake, Ariel Anders B.S., M.S., Dr. Daniel Preston B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Dr. Evelyn Wang B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

Chemical fume hoods in laboratories consume the power equivalent of 3–4 American households. The amount of energy used by a hood is directly proportional to how far the hood sash is open, and closing the sash completely can result in up to 75% energy savings. Past efforts have attempted to achieve these savings by visually reminding users to close the sash when the hood is not in use. In the present work, we implement an easily-installable alarm system to audibly alert users to close the sash when it is not in use. The device is comprised of a microcomputer fitted with a webcam to track the position of the sash using augmented reality tags and simultaneously detect motion to determine whether the hood is in use. We installed this device in several MIT laboratories with fume hoods for one week without the alarm activated (control), followed by a second week with the audible feedback when a hood was left open and not being used (test). We then compared the test data to the control to calculate the amount of energy saved and the corresponding cost savings in energy bills from the implementation of the alarm. The addition of the alarm reduced wasted energy by 96-98%, resulting in an average cost savings of $427 per fume hood annually. This work has produced an easily-installable fume hood monitor with active feedback to incorporate into any laboratory in efforts to save energy and reduce monetary costs.