A 13-year-old program through which Lehigh engineers help local and regional industries reduce energy consumption has received a five-year competitive grant of $1.37 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The grant will enable Lehigh’s DOE Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) to train 14 graduate and undergraduate students to become energy-efficiency experts, said IAC director Alparslan Oztekin, who is principal investigator on the project.
Previously, the center trained six to eight graduate and undergraduate students each year.
“We are training these students to become the next generation of energy-efficiency experts,” said Oztekin, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics.
The IAC program gives students hands-on experience, direct exposure to manufacturing plants and the opportunity to work with plant managers, he added.
Lehigh’s IAC has received DOE funding for 13 years. The latest grant is almost twice as large as the previous award, said Oztekin.
Faculty and students, most of whom are mechanical engineering majors, visit manufacturing plants, make assessments of their energy usage, and write reports that recommend ways to reduce consumption.
In 2006, said Oztekin, 22 plants saved almost $1.8 million in energy costs by implementing the recommendations made by Lehigh IAC members.
DOE has expanded the IAC program to allow faculty and students to visit schools, hospitals and commercial companies as well as manufacturing plants, said Oztekin.
Lehigh was one of 24 universities this year to receive a grant through DOE’s IAC program.
The assistant director of Lehigh’s IAC is Sudhakar Neti, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics.