The Midwest Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), housed in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Mizzou, completed its second year under the leadership of Professor Sanjeev Khanna, who serves as the director of the center, in August 2018. The center serves an area of more than 200 miles that covers all of Missouri and parts of adjoining states. The center provides assessments for energy savings, productivity and waste management for small- and medium-sized industrial facilities. It promotes best practices in energy efficiency and management, sustainable practices and waste reduction through the education and training of IAC interns, research, and partnerships with utilities and interested private/public organizations. The service is provided at no cost to the facility because of the $1.5 million received under this award, and the student team members gain valuable experience in solving real-life engineering problems. The manufacturing plants must have a minimum of $100,000 per year in energy costs and a maximum of up to about $2.5 million.
The Industrial Assessment Centers are located at accredited engineering schools at 28 universities across the country and are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing office (DOE-AMO).
In the last two years, the IAC has conducted energy assessments at 36 manufacturing plants, and based on the implementation data received from 24 plants, the economic impact of the energy savings on these companies will be about $6.8 million (according to DOE estimates over the next seven years), which is more than $280,000 per plant. In terms of energy savings, these 24 plants will cumulatively save 37.5 billion BTUs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100 million pounds while spending $800,000 in implementing energy-saving measures. Thus, for every dollar spent by the plants, the economic gain is about $8. These significant outcomes have been possible due to the diligent effort of the student interns and the involved faculty, including Assistant Director Prasad Calyam.
Student Engagement and Learning
The heart of the center is the exceptional and unique training and experiential learning provided to the selected student interns. In the last two years, 36 student interns have been associated with the IAC, of which 12 have graduated or are expected to graduate in Fall 2018 with the DOE-AMO Certificate of Achievement in Energy Efficiency, which is a true stackable credential.
The students are trained in energy efficiency through a semester long class on Industrial Energy Analysis and short term training workshops, such as ISO50001 Energy Management Standard, water and wastewater management and energy conservation, high-performance and energy-efficient buildings, introduction to cybersecurity, energy efficiency in smart manufacturing, and energy generation and management through the MU Power Plant.
Every student that graduates from the IAC program is highly trained in many aspects of energy efficiency in a manufacturing environment. This unique, hands-on and practical exposure to manufacturing and associated energy usage sets them apart from their peers and considerably improves their employment potential. These students can walk into any manufacturing plant and by the end of the day could potentially save them tens of thousands of dollars each year in energy costs.
Furthermore, the graduate students in the IAC program and high-achieving senior undergraduate students have the opportunity to conduct research in topics related to the mission of the IAC. Current examples of research are Techno-Economic Analysis of Solar Thermal Use in Manufacturing Processes, and Effect of Belt Drives on the Efficiency of Electric Motors.
This program provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain hands-on and high-impact experience in applying their technical knowledge while working in a team as espoused by MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright. Furthermore, the program provides a trained workforce at the intersection of basics of engineering and practice of engineering. In addition, the significant reduction in energy consumption, emissions and waste provides a more sustainable and healthier environment.
Feedback from Students and Clients
Many industrial clients have expressed their appreciation of the efforts of student interns and the involved faculty in helping them achieve energy cost savings, reducing waste and reducing potentially harmful emissions. A few selected comments from industrial clients are listed below.
“Working with Sanjeev’s team was a delight. They were knowledgeable, professional and asked great questions to understand our process completely before generating a report with suggestions. The report highlighted some improvement areas that we had not thought of yet, which was fantastic. Thank you very much for your time to help us continuously improve our energy reduction plans,” said Christina Stage, lean manager of Silgan Plastic Food Containers.
“Sanjeev, this audit is very well done. Not only does it provide Dean Foods with sustainability projects and the savings calculations use for project justification, it also provided your students with real-world, hands-on experience. I support the O’Fallon plant from a corporate engineering function, so when Randy presented your idea to perform the audit, I thought it was a great fit with our sustainability objectives. Dean Foods, like many organizations today, is being asked to dig deeper for sustainability and cost savings projects, so this audit will allow us to fill the pipeline. Randy and I will get together to look over the projects and discuss possible timelines for completion. Thanks again for team’s work,” said Jerry Brunner, Regional Engineering – North Region director of Dean Foods.
Students from the IAC program have started their careers in manufacturing and/or energy related fields. Selected comments from students are listed below.
Ryan Kostos, a 2017 graduate, wrote, “The pleasure has been mine. The wide range of opportunities I have experienced over the past two years has allowed me to develop a good understanding of energy usage and efficiency that I will be able to carry with me in my future career. My time in the IAC program has fostered much of my interest in energy as well as its importance. This program has been a highlight of mine during college and one of my primary motives to pursue a minor in energy. I have really enjoyed working under you over the past two years. As mentor you show a genuine interest in both the development of your pupils and the subject material which you teach, that intern reflects on your students. Keep up the good work growing the IAC program here at Mizzou and continue your willingness to develop relationships with your students.”
Graham Walters, a 2018 graduate, wrote “I’m primarily doing pump, pressure vessel, and fired heater design work. I have already used quite a bit of information I learned in your Machine Design and Industrial Energy Analysis course.”