Smart living in everyday life

The university's eBus and Solar Village are just two of the ways S&T is researching and implementing smarter and more sustainable ways of living. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

The university’s eBus and Solar Village are just two of the ways S&T is researching and implementing smarter and more sustainable ways of living as part of its Smart Living signature area. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

Missouri S&T’s Smart Living signature area concentrates on improving your quality of life. Its researchers work to transform home, workplace, transportation and energy infrastructures into “smart” environments.

Smart Living also helps expand the world’s understanding of how people and technology interact. It’s more than just creating sustainable homes. It means developing intelligent systems that will change the future of everyday life.

“Currently, there is a rapid expansion of technology that impacts our lives each day,” says Nathan Weidner, assistant professor of psychological science at S&T. “Weak artificial intelligence systems – algorithms that help us make choices throughout the day – lead us to make better decisions and are having a clear impact on society. These technologies can be so small that they are wearable but have an enormous influence on us.”

Smart Living draws on S&T’s strengths in cyber security, sustainable energy research, social dynamics, usability, big data analytics, architectural design, behavioral and environmental psychology, and transportation and infrastructure to lead research and development efforts toward a more secure and sustainable society.

“People in these new smart systems will have to learn to share resources,” says Bruce McMillin, professor of computer science and associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “With that comes the need for privacy and security. This allocation of resources carries a lot of personal information in it, and we must rely on history to give us clues to help predict the future of this technological advance.”

“Trust in human-computer interaction and AI decisions is important, but there are immediate problems that need to be considered as well,” says Weidner. “For example, if a metropolis has a large number of electric car drivers, what will happen when they arrive home for the night and all plug in their vehicles at 10 p.m.? We don’t want rolling blackouts to happen to that city nightly, so energy storage needs to be considered.”

Research in Smart Living includes:

  • Smart grid and transportation systems. Intelligent peer-to-peer systems manage renewable energy resources like wind and solar, which are backed by energy storage, including fuel cells and batteries, to provide energy to buildings. S&T’s Solar Village is a “micro” example of a smart grid in operation. Transportation and energy systems interlink with improved urban planning to provide individualized, cost-efficient transportation.
  • Decision-making and governance. Smart living requires more than data and analytics. Understanding how people process, react to and interact with information and technology will lead to a sustainable shared governance of resources.
  • Privacy and security. Intelligent systems must be resistant to security attacks while maintaining personal privacy and supporting the users’ trust in the system. In Smart Living, people must adapt to the technology and the technology must adapt to the people. The result is enhanced trust and security.
  • Building materials. New smart materials turn buildings into “living laboratories” that, through advanced analytics, provide feedback to inform users as well as to adapt to human behavior. This leads to improved infrastructure, chemical or biological environments, and decision-making. Embedded sensors can monitor how efficiently a building uses energy, water or even bandwidth, empowering people to make informed decisions on how to use resources wisely.

“Usually, we think of technology as leading the charge in this area, but if we do that we risk missing the human aspects of living,” says Nancy Stone, professor of psychological science at S&T. “The human aspects have a very high potential for research, with acceptance and ethics both needing to be addressed to ensure the needs of individuals are being met.”

S&T’s Smart Living initiative is led by McMillin and Stone. Smart Living is an interdisciplinary effort pursued jointly by faculty from arts, languages, and philosophy; business and information technology; chemical and biochemical engineering; civil, architectural and environmental engineering; computer science; economics; electrical and computer engineering; engineering management and systems engineering; English and technical communication; history and political science; mathematics and statistics; mechanical and aerospace engineering; and psychological science. It also involves industry partners and other University of Missouri System campuses to make the research a statewide effort.

Story by Peter Ehrhard
Video by Terry Barner


  1. Jolene Harbin says

    I love the Solar Village! It has such a positive impact all over campus! The Solar Village has inspired me to be more green in the environment! Keep up the awesome work!!

  2. Kelsey Garrett says

    It’s important to have a more sustainable life style!! I am proud of my school for trying to make a difference in this world and go more green!!!

  3. I would like to commend Mr. Tony Arnold for all he does to make this way of living sustainable on the Missouri S&T campus. Tony is a champion for the Solar Village and our Microgrid. He works tirelessly behind the scenes to support and enhance all aspects of our one of a kind set up! Good Luck to our Solar House Team as they make their way with the Nest Home to this year’s competition in California. Check them out on their FB page and keep up with what’s happening at

  4. I think the solar village is an awesome addition to our campus. It shows that we are cutting edge on technology and that we care about the environment!

  5. Me Too! 🙂

  6. Julia Valles says

    As a resident of the 2002 solar house, it has been an amazing and unique living experience. I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve lived here.

  7. Jordan Schupp says

    Solar village is awesome and it shows just how great solar energy is! Keep up the great work, it has such a wonderful impact on this university!

  8. Lexie Werckmann says

    I am so excited to go to a school that supports sustainability and smart living through amazing research such as in the Solar Village! It inspires me to care more about the impact I make on the environment and to become more environmentally friendly!

  9. Ashley Nickolaisen says

    The solar village is really neat, I love going there and checking out the improvements and new projects.

  10. Monica Sequerra says

    I love going to Solar Village and seeing the impact it has made it has made with wildlife.

  11. Melissa Cambre says

    The Solar Village is a great addition to the Missouri S&T campus! I love everything they do to help out the environment!

  12. Sarah Moeller says

    It is so exciting that our school is striving to to go green! The improvements on this campus in regards to sustainability and green energy makes me proud to be a Miner!!

  13. Katherine Heidinger says

    It is so wonderful to be on a campus that supports the utilization and growth of renewable energy and sustainability. Keep up the great work!