SPS Today: Joon Kim ’18 Designs Weather Alert Tool

An Aid for Flood-prone Communities

Joon Kim ’18 with his water monitoring system.

Joon Kim ’18 with his water monitoring system.

The palm-sized, solar-powered box Joon Kim ’18 designed using the Kwok Engineering Center’s 3D printer can monitor rising water levels and harvest valuable data for communities in flood-prone areas.

The idea came to Kim following his Engineering Honors summer internship with a water management company in his native South Korea. “The internship opened my eyes to what I want to do; that is to bring systemic improvements to our communities,” says Kim. “This project is the manifestation of it.”

Heavy rains engulf the Korean Peninsula during the summer months, often causing landslides and damage to infrastructure. TSPG International, the startup Kim worked with, placed sensors in the water system to monitor the rise and fall of water levels over time. Datasets from these patterns help users mitigate damage in the event of a flash flood. Kim saw an application for a similar project at SPS, where spring rains often leave the well-worn shortcut to the Schoolhouse through the meadow impassable.

It took Kim six weeks to build the weatherproof device. In addition to the electronic work required to ensure Wi-Fi connection to send results, Kim developed a database using Python coding and MATLAB computer language. The data produces alert scores to notify users of an emergency. The information lives on ThingSpeak, a website used for data and analytics.

Kim fulfilled his capstone requirements in the fall, but he will install solar sensors on the bridge by Lower School Pond and in the meadow to help the SPS Facilities Department keep track of water flow this spring.

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