PRT Car Comfortability – Is it Possible?

April 30, 2016

By Tyler Pope, Jade Artherhults, Jillian Clemente, and Athbi Khalifah

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The changing of the seasons brings variability to Morgantown, from snow in April to 60-degree days in December. Since Mother Nature is so unpredictable, it’s hard to maintain comfortable temperature levels that correspond with the weather while indoors. The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) has issues keeping its internal car temperature regulated, too.

The PRT facilities management crew turned to the Twitter-verse for help keeping initial track of this information.

An inexpensive microcontroller called an Arduino was used to collect data of the temperatures of 32 of the PRT’s 71 total cars. The Arduino can use sensors to measure different types of data, such as temperature, and can easily sit on a laptop to measure the PRT’s internal temperature.

Of the 32 cars measured, the average internal temperature of a PRT car was 65.05 degrees. Passengers in each car ranged from 1 to 12, and the cars departed from all stations at different times of the day.

This data was measured from March 16-18, final prt grapha time where temperature can fluctuate dramatically. The external temperatures ranged from 38 to 72 degrees.

The ideal temperature PRT cars are set to maintain is between 66 and 72 degrees according to John Massullo, a PRT maintenance manager.

“If the system is working correctly…the temperature is automatically set for seasonal changes,” Massullo said.

graph 1 copy

However, students have varying opinions on PRT car comfort. In a convenience sample of 43 WVU students collected using a Google Forms survey,  41% said their comfortability rated a 3 on a 5-point scale, meaning they were neither comfortable or uncomfortable.

The survey is not a fully representative snapshot of a PRT rider experience, according to students who were about to board the PRT.

“It’s always too hot, no matter the temperature outside,” said Lauren Hall, a senior strategic communications student. She suggested manually fixing each car to make sure the hottest ones could cool down.

George Jacobs has similar feelings.

“During the early fall semester, it can be kinda hot inside of the PRT and I can start sweating. I don’t like that,” said the sophomore international studies student. For Jacobs, the cars are fine in the winter.

The same goes for sophomore journalism major Ella Jennings.

“In the winter, I’ve never had a problem with it being too cold, but in the summer thegraph 3re’s definitely some PRT cars that don’t have a working AC system which can really cause some discomfort on the way to Evansdale,” she said. “There is AC in some, but it’s luck of the draw.”

She suggested being able to open a window of some sort.

Massullo said that there was some thought about installing a deeper tint on the windows.

“This would help cut some of the heat buildup,” he said.graph 4

Massullo explained why it is difficult to maintain the internal temperature. The car opens for 15 seconds at each stop and only has a certain allotted time to fluctuate its temperature back to the targeted 66 to 72-degree sweet spot. For example, Massullo said, the ride between the Towers and Engineering station is about 3 minutes. In that frame, the car can’t immediately go from 78 to 72 degrees. However, the ride from the Medical to Walnut station is about 12 minutes and the car has more time to balance the temperature.

graph 2The PRT itself has transported over 83 million passengers since 1975 and transports about 15,000 people each day. In these cars, the temperature data was collected by an Arduino sitting on a laptop.

Curious how to construct the Arduino and build the temperature circuit? See the video here:

Where is the most comfy study spot during Finals?

April 28, 2016

By Nic Cronin, Cameron Gleason, Corey McDonald & Tristan Webster

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With finals week approaching, students are always looking for comfortable areas to hunker down and study for hours on end, and one of the biggest factors when making the decision of where to study is the temperature of the room or area.


Arduinos like this can be used to create a multitude of circuits

Data was collected using Arduino microcontrollers to determine how similar or varying the temperatures were the many study rooms and common areas around West Virginia University’s campus. Arduino is a prototyping platform that can use sensors to collect data such as temperature and output them to a computer. Temperature readings were taken at a number of study areas across campus, mostly in dorms, where students spend a lot of their time, to find in what ways they may be similar or different.

Aside from a few outliers, each building tended to stick with an average temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit with small variations of temperature between each of the floors. Some buildings show a relatively consistent trend with temperatures rising slightly with each consecutive floor up, such as the Towers, while others – such as WVU’s Downtown Library – were a bit more random from floor to floor.

Below is the map of the WVU campus where temperatures were collected.  

The blue pins represent buildings where all of the average temperature readings came in below 70 degrees Fahrenheit while the red pins represent the buildings where all of the readings came in above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The green pins mean that the building had both average readings above and below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Click a pin to see more detailed readings for each individual building. 


Our Arduino taking temperatures readings in an Honors Hall

Temperature readings were made among several resident halls on both the downtown and Evansdale campus, as well as in the WVU Downtown Library. On the downtown campus, readings were taken primarily around 12 p.m. at Arnold Hall, Stalnaker Hall, Dadisman Hall, Summit Hall, and Honors Hall. On the Evansdale campus, readings were also taken at the same time at Lincoln Hall, Lyon Tower, Brooke Tower, and Braxton Tower.

Honors Hall currently houses roughly 350 students according to WVU’s housing website. The study area on the first floor of the dorm had an average temperature of 70.14 degrees Fahrenheit, the second floor averaged at 66.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and the third floor’s average was 68 degrees Fahrenheit. When the data was taken at the Honors Hall on March 17, the weather was fairly warmer than the preceding days and this may have affected the temperature readings.  

Study area temperatures varied from building to building, with many of the readings occurring alongside different weather patterns. Data taken in Dadisman Hall, for example, showed that the indoor temperatures of common areas were consistent with the outdoor temperature – slightly above 55 degrees on April 4 – while common areas in Stalnaker and Arnold had much higher temperatures than Dadisman.

When asked at WVU’s Downtown Library about the varying temperatures of the many buildings around campus, John, a sophomore student at WVU replied, “The temperatures around campus seem to be pretty random. While I am usually comfortable in most buildings, the temperature can be noticeably different from floor to floor in the same building.” This was a theme that also came out in the temperature readings.

On the Evansdale campus, the different towers showed a relatively consistent trend. Temperature readings showed, in most cases, the temperature rising slightly with each consecutive floor up. Brooke Hall, for example, had a reading of 69 degrees Fahrenheit on the third floor, a reading of 71 degrees on the fourth floor and a 72-degree reading on the fifth. If a student would like to keep cooler, the first few floors of each tower may be better for them.

The overall temperature readings show a couple of things. Besides the rare outlier, such as Dadisman Hall’s reading that came out unusually low, most of the study areas and rooms are relatively consistent temperatures, tending to remain between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with the hottest temperature of 74.35 degrees recorded on the second floor of WVU’s downtown library, and the coldest temperature of 55 degrees in Dadisman Hall.


The Towers study rooms averaged about 69.63 degrees, in all

When asked his opinion about the temperatures of the many buildings around campus, Michael Godleski, a junior history student at WVU replied, “I usually don’t have a problem with the temperature in the buildings when it’s warm outside. But in the winter when I have to wear heavy clothes, the class rooms can sometimes be way too hot.” It’s possible that some of the buildings’ temperatures may be over compensated for the cold weather leading to over heated rooms, which can be a problem when students are dressed up to brave the winter weather.

The biggest factor that had an impact on temperature changes was the varying weather patterns that the residents and students of Morgantown have become so used to around this time of year. This was particularly noticeable in the case of Dadisman Hall, where weather patterns were significantly colder. In the end, despite unpredictable weather changes, if you’re looking to keep cooler this finals week, the first few floors may be your best bet. 

More examples of temperature sensing at work

Temperatures in workout rooms rise during the most rigorous group exercise

April 28, 2016

By Samantha Clarkson, Ashley Gonzalez, Kalea Gunderson and Madalyn LaMastro


Spinning class 5:30 p.m. featuring the Arduino

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the increase in heart rate that comes with exercise, there is also an increase in temperature in many West Virginia University Student Recreation Center group exercise rooms.

During group exercise classes at the WVU Rec, temperatures during high-intensity workouts increased by at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas low-intensity classes seemed to remain consistent or even drop.

This data was collected with temperature sensing technology through the use of an Arduino microcontroller. An Arduino is an open-source platform used to prototype coded inputs. It can read data input from sensors, in this case the temperature in the room, and output that data to the user via a personal computer.  


The arduino and breadboard connected to temperature sensing code

The data showed that group exercise classes where temperature increased were the high-intensity classes Body Pump, Spinning and Zumba. Both Body Pump and Spinning increased by 2 degrees, but Zumba increased by 3 degrees from beginning to end making it the class with the greatest temperature increase.

Yoga had the highest recorded average temperature of all. The class, which began at 6:40 p.m., was 75.45 degrees, making it the hottest class recorded. However, that temperature dropped throughout the class to 73.7, possibly due to factors such as the outside temperature drop in the evening.

rec temps graph

Group exercise class instructors try to keep their classes at consistent temperatures to ensure a comfortable experience for students.

“I want to keep everyone as cool as possible during the workout,” said Body Pump instructor Jaclyn Stamile. “I keep the fans on blast and remind my class to take constant water breaks.”


Body Pump 5:30 p.m.

According to Spinning instructor Melissa Henry, her class also keeps the fans running, but turns the lights off to attempt to keep the workout room at a cool temperature.

Regardless of attempts to control the temperature, these high-intensity classes rise in degrees throughout the workout. However, low-intensity classes don’t typically feel a change.

“I’ve only taught January, February and March in that room so I don’t really notice too much of a difference, maybe a couple degrees at the most because of the windows,” Yoga instructor Jayne Harris explained.

Each of the three workout class rooms at the Rec Center have big windows, allowing for nice views during group exercise, but also for sunlight to heat up the space.


Yoga 6:40 p.m.

“It gets really hot in here when the sun is streaming in,” Stamile said. “I wish the Rec would install shades for the windows so my class could stay cooler while they’re working out.”


Yoga 6:40 p.m.

Zumba instructor, Leah Skrypek says the room where she teaches class might have something to do with the increase in temperature.

“It definitely gets hot, especially in the upstairs room. In the winter, the heat’s on overdrive,” Skrypek explains. “I don’t think we get the heart rate levels that body pump or spinning would, but I think it’s a good beginner’s class.”


Zumba 7:50 p.m.

In addition to room structure, the time of day and year also affects the temperature in the exercise rooms.

“It’s definitely hotter in this room in the summer and when there are more people in the class or back-to-back classes throughout the day,” Henry said.

Data was retrieved from the Spinning class when it was 61.84 degrees outside in the middle of March. It was 5:30 p.m. with little sunlight and only 3 people in class, likely due to the timing before spring break. It was also the only class in that room that day.

Body Pump was also recorded in the evening, which could have affected the data.

“Although we try to keep the temperature as cool as possible, people tend to feel their exercise is most successful the sweatier they get,” Stamile said. “So, maybe the temperature increase isn’t too bad – it all just depends on what people want from their workout.”


To learn how to use the Arduino to sense temperature, watch this video.