TTU students selected to lead industrial energy assessments with DOE grant

Posted by Lori Shull - Tuesday, December 18 2012


A team of Tennessee Tech University students will beef up their resumes and professional experience by presenting ideas about energy conservation to industry leaders and manufacturers.

The students are members of the university’s chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, which was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive part of a nearly $300,000 grant to help improve energy efficiency in manufacturing plants. The TTU chapter is one of five across the nation to participate in the first year of the three-year program.

“I’ll be going out, making presentations and asking the company management questions about how they run their company and how I can improve operations to help them save money,” said junior Kendal Lewis, of Chattanooga. “I want to create a new venue for students. We do foundry work, we do design work, we do welding and machinery. This is something new for us.”

Lewis, a manufacturing and industrial technologies major and president of the SME chapter, is one of the students to lead the project. Senior Palak Patel, of Lebanon, is the other project leader.

TTU has housed Tennessee’s 3-Star Industrial Assessment Center in the larger Manufacturing Research Center since 2006, which does involve students in its work, but this initiative will be led by the student organization.

“As faculty, we do the research and the teaching, but engaging students is happening less often,” said Ismail Fidan, the SME chapter adviser and professor of manufacturing and industrial technology. “This program is helping to change that, and we’re really excited.”

“It’s like taking a new breath.”

The Department of Energy has not yet told the university how much of the funding will come to Cookeville, nor does Fidan know if the campus will be involved in more than one year of the project.

Iowa State University, Oregon State University, the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, and the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth also will participate in the program.

Lewis and Patel went to a World Energy Engineering Congress earlier this semester in Atlanta to receive training about what kinds of ideas to pitch to manufacturing companies and how to make presentations to company executives.

“I’m excited to learn this process,” Lewis said. “This may be something I want to do professionally.”