Internet of Things Platform for Engineering Education and Research

IoT PEER is an initiative at Tennessee Tech (Tech) dedicated for education, collaborative research and technology exploration. An IoT platform has been developing since summer 2016, thanks to the support from the College of Engineering (CoE) via iMakerSpace.


Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow and is permeating to our daily lives. The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts worldwide spending on IoT to reach $772 Billion in 2018 [1], and nearly $1.4 Trillion in 2021 [2]. According to Statista, the installed base of IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide in 2020 [3]. Despite IoT applications grow steadily, IoT faces many critical issues, such as how to strengthen security and how to optimize performance. To tackle these issues, it is desired to have an IoT research testbed to test ideas and verify solutions.
Internet of things ecosystem chart

The Internet of Things Ecosystem, courtesy of Business Insider.

An IoT ecosystem encompasses Big Data Analysis, Data Security and Privacy, Data Storage, and Communications, with impact in Manufacturing, Cyber-Physical Infrastructure, Home Automation, Transportation, Agriculture, and several others areas. Besides its fast-growing applications and market, IoT also provides with potential opportunities for research and educational grants. With this in mind, we proposed the creation of an IoT Platform for Engineering Education and Research (IoT PEER) to help ourselves capture the opportunities and prepare students for competitive job market.
IoT PEER reference architecture chart

Our Goals

  1. Support CoE’s “student first” goal to attract students, encourage their research and innovation, and help pave the way to their career success.
  2. Provide a collaborative research mechanism for exploring a wide range of technologies with emphasis on Industrial IoT (IIoT) and smart manufacturing security.

IoT Applications and Activities at Tech

  • Machinery Health Monitoring and Analysis: Motivated by the need for shop floor monitoring in manufacturing, this project tries to acquire, analyze and visualize the data measured by vibration and temperature sensors attached to machines. As IoT and data science advance rapidly, detecting faults in real-time and even predicting when equipment failure might occur (i.e., Predicative Maintenance, PdM) are achievable. The initial experimental setup is designed to collect sensor data from machines wirelessly, store and visualize the data at Microsoft Azure cloud, and perform Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect or predict failures. Moreover, Node-RED is used to send email alerts triggered by some pre-defined conditions like excessive vibration and failures of 3-D printing. This work can support research in manufacturing and help regional manufacturers. This work has been continued by an ECE Senior Capstone Design team directed by Dr. Syed Hasan and Dr. Terry Guo.
  • Cattle Tracking Project: Led by Dr. Clyde Bagley, a stag-1 smart mineral feeder prototype for livestock tracking has been developed. The system uses RFID technology for headcount of cows at the feeder, an on-site solar panel with battery backup for power supply, a high-gain WiFi antenna for extended range, and a web server on campus for mobile access. In addition, a camera and a few sprayers are mounted at the feeder site as well. The project has evolved into a 4-way cooperative effort between School of Agriculture, Computer Science Department, Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, and Center for Manufacturing Research. This project continues evolving thanks to the support from Tech Research Office.
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): IoT PEER has benefited REU teams since summer 2016 by providing resources and peer learning opportunities. Meanwhile these REU teams have made contributions in developing the IoT platform, thanks to the support of NSF REU program under the grant number 1560434. IoT PEER looks forward to supporting REU activities in the future.

REU Summer 2017 Team photo

  • Intrusion Detection in Industrial/Manufacturing Environment: Recently, supported by two centers at Tennessee Tech, i.e., the Center for Manufacturing Research (CMR) and Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC), the IoT PEER is being used in studying security and smart manufacturing related topics [4 – 6]. One particular objective is to safeguard the Industrial Control System (ICS). One of CEROC student research team mentored by Dr. Siraj Ambareen and Dr. Terry Guo is working on ICS intrusion detection. The initial IoT platform is being extended to emulate different smart manufacturing scenarios and develop security countermeasures. The big multidimensional data collected from experiments on the platform will be used for studying intrusion detection in different ways.

Industrial control system setup

Resources for Learning and Research

  • IoT Kit in Box: As a part of the effort to promote innovations in manufacturing and engineering education and research, and to encourage interdisciplinary efforts across Tennessee Tech, two types of IoT electronic kits are available at the iMakerSpace. Instruments, space, and technical consultation can be provided in the iMakerSpace. The kits can be checked out at the Volpe Library front desk. For additional information, please contact Dr. Terry Guo at .

IoT Kit box photo

  • Experimental Setups on Campus: The IoT experimental platform has been set up at a few locations including Clement Hall 403 and the iMakerSpace on the 3rd floor of Tech Volpe Library. Contact Dr. Terry Guo at if you are interested in our IoT research and development activities.
  • Presentations: The following DIY videos may help improve your IoT skills.

IoT Setup Guide for Raspberry Pi 3

Configure XBee Modules

Use of Microsoft Azure--Tutorial 1: Installing Python

Use of Microsoft Azure--Tutorial 2: Installing Wheels

Use of Microsoft Azure--Tutorial 3: Importing Modules

  • Articles and Publications:

The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype - McKinsey

IEEE The Institute - March 2014 Special Issue on IoT

IEEE Internet of Things Journal

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): the business guide to Industrial IoT

5G and IoT in 2018 and beyond: the mobile broadband future of IoT

IoT PEER Coordinators and Support Team

  • Terry Guo (, R&D Engineer
  • Marbin Pazos-Revilla (, CoE IT Specialist and Engineering Ph.D. student


Thanks to Tech CoE administration for its support of the IoT PEER initiative. Microsoft Azure cloud services are kindly sponsored by Microsoft Corporation. This work is supported partially by NSF REU program under the grant number 1560434.


  1. IDC Forecasts Worldwide Spending on the Internet of Things to Reach $772 Billion in 2018. Available:
  2. Worldwide Spending on the Internet of Things Forecast to Reach Nearly $1.4 Trillion in 2021, According to New IDC Spending Guide. Available:
  3. Statista. Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide from 2015 to 2025 (in billions). Available:
  4. H. S. Kang, J. Y. Lee, S. Choi, H. Kim, J. H. Park, J. Y. Son, B. H. Kim, and S. Do Noh, “Smart manufacturing: Past research, present findings, and future directions,” International Journal of Precision Engineering and Manufacturing-Green Technology, vol. 3, no. 1, pp.111–128, 2016.
  5. A.-R. Sadeghi, C. Wachsmann, and M. Waidner, “Security and privacy challenges in industrial internet of things,” in Design Automation Conference (DAC), 2015 52nd ACM/EDAC/IEEE. IEEE, 2015, pp. 1–6.
  6. S. R. Chhetri, N. Rashid, S. Faezi, and M. A. Al Faruque, “Security trends and advances in manufacturing systems in the era of industry 4.0,” in IEEE/ACM international conference on computer aided design, 2017.

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