Science, Technology, Engineering & Math | News

Penn State Students Perform Energy Audit for Local Business

Energy engineering students at Pennsylvania State University recently audited the energy usage of a local business through the school's Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP).

Students in EGEE 494A found two leaks in the compressed air system of a facility owned by Kurtz Brothers, a distributer of school supplies, equipment and furniture.

"Monty Kunes, Kurtz Brothers president and CEO, said one of the leaks would have been difficult to detect without the specialized equipment and he suspected the machine would have continued to leak air unnoticed if it weren't for the energy engineering students," according to a university news release.

"It's a win-win for us," said Kunes of the free audit, in a prepared statement. "It's a learning experience for the students and Kurtz Brothers receives a full, extensive report of what they discovered. Their analysis will help us improve our systems and become more energy efficient."

Jonathan Wise, one of the students who participated in the audit, said he took the class to get some real-world experience dealing with the theories he learned about in his other energy engineering courses.

"It's a class that attempts to incorporate concepts learned over the years, utilizing that information for problem-solving, and I definitely feel this PennTAP project has done that," Wise said, in a prepared statement. "A lot of what we have learned in the classroom has manifested into real world experience."

Sarma Pisupati, the faculty mentor for the course, said that many of his students have never seen an operational manufacturing facility in person.

"Although the students know the theories to some extent, it's always good to have guidance from a PennTAP expert," said Pisupati. "This really works out well in both training engineers and helping industry solve its problems."

In 2013 PennTAP provided technical assistance to organizations 273 times, often with student participation. "Clients have reported more than $7.7 million in economic impact and 72 jobs created or retained," according to a news release.

"This is a chance to get students into real world applications, where they apply the principles they learn in class and put their theories into practice," said Denise Bechdel, energy, environment and worker health team lead for PennTAP. "This will prepare students to be tomorrow's sustainability leaders."

More information about PennTAP is available at penntap.psu.edu.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

comments powered by Disqus