Ohio State Energy Partners grants support innovation, sustainability

Posted: November 3, 2021

New philanthropic contributions from Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP), the university’s comprehensive energy management partnership, will support students in exploring careers in sustainable energy and training in cutting-edge digital manufacturing, among other initiatives.

OSEP contributes $810,000 each year to the university or affiliated philanthropic causes as part of its commitment to academic engagement. Several projects that earned funding are led by College of Engineering faculty.

Preparing the digital manufacturing workforce
Grants include $44,000 to Michael Groeber, associate professor of additive manufacturing, for the "Workforce Development for a Digital World" program, which is based at the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME).

Concept Laser
Students work on a GE Additive Concept Laser M2 machine installed at CDME

The grant will fund the work of undergraduate interns who are studying digital manufacturing processes at CDME’s additive manufacturing and artificially intelligent manufacturing systems laboratories.

“What we’re trying to do is just wet the feet of these students and see how we can push this forward and hopefully build a base for Ohio State in the future as a leader of digital manufacturing,” Groeber said.

Groeber said he and Jacob Rindler, a welding engineering doctoral candidate and CDME staff scientist, drafted the OSEP grant proposal to assist CDME’s undergraduate interns in analyzing data that cameras, sensors and other devices record during the digital manufacturing process.

The research examines how manufacturers can create unique items in small quantities, tailored to meet consumer demand, Groeber said.

Optimizing energy usage on campus
CDME experts also will lead the "Holistic Building Data Gathering for Optimized Energy Usage" project, which received a $50,000 grant.

An interdisciplinary team, including Siemens and ENGIE as industry partners, is deploying sensors in a building constructed in the 1940s. The data collected will be made available to Ohio State faculty, staff, and students to create new algorithms, new building management methodologies for old buildings, and new instrumentation approaches that do not require replacing outdated but functioning infrastructure.

"This program is an exciting opportunity for Ohio State to create the new gold standard for data analytics and machine learning for the management of older buildings,” said CDME Executive Director Nate Ames.  

Sustainable energy leaders of the future

Another $35,000 OSEP grant was awarded to Ramteen Sioshansi, professor of integrated systems engineering, for the "Convergent Graduate Training and EmPOWERment for a Sustainable Energy Future" program. It brings together Ohio State researchers with expertise in sustainable energy to teach students about innovations in the field and assist them in training for careers in the industry, Sioshansi said.

Sioshansi with students
Sioshansi with grad students (photo taken pre-COVID)

“The idea is to develop a program that’s going to provide the students with a more holistic exposure to issues that have to do with sustainable energy systems than they would get typically just in doing a siloed PhD,” he added.

According to Program Director Diane Boghrat, students are studying a variety of subject areas, from emerging technologies to behavioral sciences that evaluate how and why people adopt sustainable energy practices.

“We have a mix of students. Some students are interested in going the professorate route, and some are generally interested in the educational space,” she said. “And then we have other students that are interested in working at national labs or in policy or technology spaces. We have students with a lot of varying interests, and that’s mainly because we have students in so many broad disciplines.”

Using campus as a living laboratory
Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Jacob Boswell’s "Sustainable Ohio Urban Landscape Lab (SOULL)" project earned $50,000 in funding. Using campus as a living laboratory, SOULL seeks to improve the ecosystem services of small urban parcels by designing and testing new planting and management regimes.

Boswell’s project builds from the foundation established by the 2018 University Panel on Ecosystem Services Report, which called for the utilization of campus landscapes as an explicit part of the university’s core missions of teaching, research and discovery. SOULL will use campus landscapes to bring together staff, students and faculty in Landscape Architecture and Restoration and Ecology, Environment and Natural Resources, as well as Facilities and Operations staff. Interdisciplinary teams will design, build and test new ways of treating campus landscapes with the intention of improving their ecosystem services value, reducing expense to maintain, and improving the quality of life for students, faculty, staff, and campus neighbors.

Additional grants supporting engineering students include:

  • $12,698 to Brian Gaydos, a mechanical engineering student, to create a semester-long bike rental pilot program.
  • $5,000 to HackOH/IO, a 24-hour hackathon that attracts more than 800 participants annually for a full weekend of coding, building, learning, networking and innovation.

In 2017, the university and OSEP entered into the comprehensive energy management partnership, which launched an unprecedented energy efficiency program and established Ohio State as an international leader in sustainability. OSEP is a joint venture between ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure. The university’s Energy Academic Collaboration Council provides support for the grant program.

Full list of OSEP 2021 philanthropic contributions.

modified version of Ohio State News article and College of Engineering article.

Categories: StudentFaculty