The University of Louisville is one of 32 universities nationwide participating in a U.S. Department of Energy program to help manufacturers in the region improve their energy efficiency. UofL will receive $2.2 million of a $60 million investment in the current cohort of DOE Industrial Assessment Centers program.
IACs offer no-cost energy and water use efficiency and waste reduction recommendations to small- and medium-sized regional manufacturers and train the next generation of energy engineering professionals. The members of this largest-ever cohort of IACs will focus on improving productivity, decarbonization, enhancing cybersecurity, promoting resiliency planning and providing training to entities located in disadvantaged communities.
The funding allows for the creation of the UofL Industrial Assessment Center for Manufacturing Technical Assistance and Energy Engineering Workforce Development at UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering. A focus of the UofL IAC will be to train graduate and undergraduate students in providing energy and water use reduction assessments. The IAC training will leverage the newly created master’s degree in materials and energy science and engineering at the Speed School to provide these students with advanced training in state-of-the-art energy systems and applications. The center also will address industry engagement and energy efficiency research within the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, according to Mark McGinley, civil and environmental engineering professor at UofL and principal investigator on the project.
“We want to educate students in this process, to teach them to conduct these assessments using best practices and offer more students with these skillsets to support industry over a long period of time,” McGinley said. “We have structured the IAC center to identify recurring industry needs and facilitate development of technologies to address these needs.”
The UofL project team also includes Mahendra Sunkara, co-principal investigator and director of the Conn Center, who will coordinate research and development of educational programming; Ed Tackett, director of engineering solutions and industry relations, who will manage community college interactions and industrial relations; Lissa McCracken, executive director of the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, who will manage assessment staff and industrial outreach; and Emmanuel Collins, dean of the Speed School, who will manage recruitment of industrial entities and students from underrepresented groups and communities.
“I’m thrilled that the Department of Energy has chosen to invest in the University of Louisville and its students, selecting it as one of the newest sites for an Industrial Assessment Center,” said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth. “The IAC program provides an immense value to students and businesses alike, harnessing the talent of our brightest minds to tackle the energy, environmental and economic challenges of tomorrow. I’m so proud to support this effort and to know that Louisville will play such an important role in continuing to build the clean energy economy of the future.”
Since its inception, the IAC program has provided nearly 20,000 no-cost assessments for small and medium sized manufacturers and more than 147,000 recommendations for improvement measures. IACs typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer, nearly $50,000 of which is implemented during the first year following the assessment.