About the Synergy Lab


The Systems, Networking and Energy Efficiency Lab was started in 2010 by Dr. Yuvraj Agarwal. The primary purpose of the lab is to research energy consumption in systems and design solutions which reduce that consumption, from mobile devices to large commerical buildings to the electrical grid. In order to acheive this goal, we believe that both a combined hardware/software approach is essential. Most of our solutions require both, such as our energy meters, and that in order to drive the type of next-generation systems, all layers of the abstraction stack must be examined. We design our own hardware and PCBs, from simple sensor boards to wireless networking boards. We also develop software, and write programs at all levels, from the firmware that goes into many of our embedded systems to Window applications that run on desktop computers to dynamic web applications that deliver data from a distributed database.

The type of solutions we seek revolve around energy efficiency in all its forms. One of our key research areas is on practical proxying for computers. Our core system is called SleepServers, and is the lead system in the entire area of proxying architectures. We also are looking into energy monitoring, and have designed the UCSD Energy Dashboard as our research effort in this space. We have also designed and developed systems for next generation smart buildings. Embedded wireless sensors monitor conditions such as occupancy and energy usage and optimize existing management functions in order to reduce energy consumption. For example, we have developed a low-cost occupancy sensor that is able to accurately track occupancy on a per-room basis. Using this data, we have interfaced with the management system of our CS building and control the HVAC in a much more efficient manner. We have also worked in the Privacy area with the Protect my Privacy app for IOS. Not only does PMP give greater privacy protection through less access to mobile information, but the reduced access leads to reduced energy usage, which is useful from both a sustainability and usability standpoint. Currently we are working on a number of projects, some of them extensions on other work, such as PMP, or new projects, such as unsupervised automated HVAC fault detection, diagnosis, and repair. HVAC systems consume a significant poriton of building energy, and HVAC faults have been shown to be the cause of a signficiant portion of that energy consumption. Reducing faults will therefore reduce energy consumption, as well as improving occupant comfort.

Our work stretches the entire gamut of system research, but all of it as a focus on improving energy efficiency. This is reflected in our publication venus, as our work has been published in conferences such as DATE, DAC, IPSN, BuildSys, NSDI, MobiSys and USENIX ATC. Currently, the lab is in transition from UCSD to Carnegie Mellon University, and we have researchers at both schools. We also work closely with our parent lab MESL, and collaborate with many other research groups at UCSD and Carnegie Mellon University.

Joining Our Lab

We are always looking for new students, both PhD and masters, to join our lab. Prospective students should be interested in energy efficiency and have a good background in systems research. Experience with hardware (at the PCB level) is desirable. We do a lot of work with wireless sensor networks, specifically Zigbee, and thus a good understanding of networking and wireless networking is important. The ideal person would be someone with a wide background in systems, software development, networking, and hardware engineering. However, even if you do not fit that profile, as long as you are able to learn quickly and are passionate about developing systems that can significantly improve energy efficiency, from integrated circuits to computers to whole buildings, you would likely be a great fit with us.

If you have already been admitted as a PhD student or masters student at Carnegie Mellon University or UCSD, please make an appointment with Yuvraj Agarwal to discuss opportunities and areas of potential research.