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Syracuse University Industrial Assessment Center awarded $1.5 million to support Department of Energy initiative

September 15, 2011

Ariel DuChene
(315) 443-2546

The Syracuse University-Industrial Assessment Center (SU-IAC) has been awarded $1.5 million over five years to support the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing efficiency and to help them become the nation’s next generation of industrial energy efficiency experts.

“This only confirms what we already knew: that Syracuse University is on the cutting edge of industrial energy efficiency innovation,” says U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “I applaud the Department of Energy for selecting Syracuse for this exciting opportunity and for making this important investment in Central New York. This training program opens the door to good-paying jobs for thousands of students, all while providing a boost to the local economy and clean energy projects.”

The grant is led by Suresh Santanam, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS), deputy executive director of the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE),and director of the SU-IAC.

“The combination of relevant expertise in the departments of biomedical and chemical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering in LCS, the cognate strengths of the SU community, the strategic location of the SU in Central New York state and the continued need from industries in this region for assessing opportunities for energy savings made Syracuse University well positioned to meet the objectives of the DoE,” says Santanam

Two entities closely aligned with the college–the SyracuseCoE and the STAR Center for Environmental Quality Systems (EQS-STAR Center)–will help support this initiative. These centers, along with the Building Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratory (BEESL), work closely with the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY) and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) to identify potential partners for collaboration from among the many industrial, manufacturing and energy-producing companies in the region.

The SU-IAC will conduct energy assessment via data collection and analysis, on-site visits and inspections, and multiple communications with individual client companies. The SU-IAC staff, consisting of teaching and research engineering faculty, graduate assistants and undergraduate interns, will perform the necessary engineering analytical work in support of the energy efficiency ideas generated, and report on those results in formal documents provided to company personnel and management. Energy use improvements will be tracked through implemented recommendations, and estimates of cost savings will be used as a metric of performance.

The SU-IAC, founded 11 years ago, will be staffed with 12 to 18 students and will train and graduate 10 to 15 students from the program annually at various degree levels. Most students will remain with the program from one to three years. It is expected that the SU-IAC will educate and train up to 75 students during the five-year project period. Students at Clarkson University, a partner of SU-IAC and SyracuseCoE, will also participate and receive training under this program.

The SU-IAC will target performing 20 to 25 assessments each fiscal year. These assessments will directly impact the industrial plants annually, as well as create spin-off opportunities that may be instituted at sister plants or other divisions within the same companies. To date, the SU-IAC has engaged with more than 200 client companies. At an annual energy cost savings of $100,000 per facility, these facilities will be expected to save more than $10 million annually. This will translate to improved competitiveness, economic viability and employment stability in the suppressed industrial communities served. SU-IAC will also affect the local and regional trade associations, industrial development agencies, and the state energy office, by way of technology transfer, invited lectures and service work to the industrial community.

“This grant will support Syracuse University’s vision of Scholarship in Action by providing training opportunities for students to apply engineering principles to energy challenges faced by industry. This grant further strengthens our commitment to providing education in energy systems and to our focus on furthering research to reduce our dependency on traditional forms of energy,” says Laura J. Steinberg, dean of LCS. “Additionally, the SU-IAC will help Syracuse University contribute to creating a more sustainable manufacturing environment in New York state.”

“This important new award is sure to strengthen the reputation of Central Upstate New York as a leader in energy-efficient innovations for industry, business, and consumers. This is a great opportunity for companies in our region to reduce their energy costs and also develop new products and services that will be exported to others across the county and around the world,” says Ed Bogucz, executive director of SyracuseCoE. “SyracuseCoE congratulates Syracuse and Clarkson Universities for collaborating to develop their winning proposal. We look forward to supporting their efforts to help businesses across the region.”

The total value of the project will be $1.75 million, with $1.5 million being funded from the Department of Energy and a partial cost match from LCS.

Other members of the project team are professor Fred Carranti, former director of the SU-IAC, and professor Jensen Zhang–both in LCS’s mechanical and aerospace engineering departments–and professor Ken Visser of the SU-IAC satellite center at Clarkson University.

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