Renewable Energy Engineering Students Use Technology to Change Lives in Africa
In August 2012, Oregon Tech Renewable Energy Engineering students will travel for the third time to Tanzania to promote solar energy as part of the International Development effort. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, and roughly 80 percent of its population has no access to electricity.
Over the last two years, Oregon Tech students completed 24 solar photovoltaic installations in schools and hospitals, creating an enormous impact on over 20,000 Tanzanians, primarily children, by providing them with access to electricity and improving their overall quality of life. The schools now use the electricity for lighting, which prevent frequent tragedies associated with using candles or burning fossil fuels inside. They also have means for water purification and for different forms of communication that bring them closer to the rest of the world. Hospitals and health clinics can now offer treatment at night, sterilize surgical equipment, and refrigerate vaccines. Numerous lives have already been saved in Africa by this effort from Oregon Tech students and their reputation in that part of the world is remarkable.
Given the success in the first two years and the clear need for additional systems, this unique renewable energy education program will be organized again in 2012. From August 20 — September 20th, ten Oregon Tech students from Portland and Klamath Falls will travel to the Iringa and Ludewa regions of Tanzania, where they will install 10 photovoltaic systems for schools and health centers, as well as a solar water pumping system that will provide drinking water for a village of 2,000. This year’s trip budget is estimated at $50,000 and the cost is covered by student contributions and by external donations that will help secure components for solar installations.
In addition to the humanitarian aspect, this program includes educational coursework and a unique opportunity for our students to experience practical applications of renewable energy technologies. With every installation, the students gain valuable hands-on experience in solar and battery technologies. They also learn to be actively engaged in the global environmental and energy issues through discussions about sustainability, effects of technology on people in developing countries, and global entrepreneurial opportunities through the social business concept. The students that come on the trip gain new insights that will enable them to seek answers to today’s questions about the future of energy and its impact on life across the world.
As students in the BS in Renewable Energy Engineering program and proponents of sustainable living, Oregon Tech students help create a sustainable planetary society with equal rights and environmental protection for all people. They believe that renewable energy will be the foundation for a future where there will be no geopolitical imbalance, where all people will contribute to that sustainable future, and where these energy sources will bring the world together rather than dividing it.
For more information, to join or to contribute, contact professor Slobodan Petrovic at 503.821.1256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oregon Tech REE Professor Presents on Nanostructures in Energy Storage
Dr. Slobodan Petrovic, Associate Professor of Renewable Energy Engineering at Oregon Tech, attended the Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum 2012 at the University of California, Berkeley, in California this past April. He was one of only nine experts invited to speak at the event.
Dr. Petrovic, representing Oregon Tech, presented on Nanostructures in energy storage research. His presentation focused on:
- Power sources for micro and nano devices
- Nano structures for fuel cells
- Fuel cell nano catalysts
- Nano materials for catalyst support
- Silicon based fuel cells
- Nano structures for batteries
His presentation was well-received and provoked a fruitful discussion on the future of energy storage and on the fundamental research needs involving nanoscience.
Nanotechnology involves the design, characterization, production, and application of structures, devices, and systems by controlled manipulation of size and shape at the nanometer scale (atomic, molecular, and macromolecular scale) that produces structures, devices, and systems with at least one novel/superior characteristic or property.
The Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum is a long-standing tradition at the university and consists of presentations by top nanotech experts from both university and national laboratories, poster presentations of nanotech projects, and other selected research.
Operations Management Department Offers Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
The Operations Management Department will grant Six Sigma Green Belt Certificates this year. Students in the Operations Management program are now able to attain green belt certification with the completion of a Six Sigma project during their senior year at Oregon Tech.
Jake Wampler, an Operations Management major at Oregon Tech, was one of the first to complete his project. Jake worked with Columbia Forest Products in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The project is estimated to produce approximately $35,000 of hard dollar savings within the shipping department and increase the company’s shipping capacity by 20 percent. Plant Superintendant Martin Dahm said, “We are excited to work with the school on this venture, it’s good for both of our organizations.”
Six Sigma is a quality standard, a business philosophy, and a problem solving methodology. Oregon Tech is proud to prepare its Operation Management graduates with this particular skill set because it is highly desired across a wide array of industries.
Oregon Tech, PSU and BPA Collaborate on Hydropower Optimization
Oregon Tech Renewable Energy Engineering students Michael Curtiss, Jonas Parker, and Gregg Ripplinger tackled a real-world challenge in their Advanced Hydropower course with Adjunct Professor Lee Sheldon. Their Get Smart assignment, which they willingly accepted, was to develop a new computer algorithm and program to optimize the generation of a hydroelectric project.
Utilizing Curtiss’s programming skills and hydropower knowledge from other team members, their project resulted in a $99,000 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration through their Technology Innovation Opportunity Program. Former Oregon Tech Associate Professor, Robert Bass, now at PSU, acted as the Principal Investigator for the project and is collaborating with the team on project implementation.
This optimization is done by first selecting the proper generating units to have on line and then how to share the total powerhouse load among the individual selected units. This grant from BPA will provide for a commercial demonstration of the program with a precondition being to identify and obtain the use of an existing powerhouse for the demonstration.
A pre-award notice to proceed was received from BPA. On March 20, 2012, a meeting was held with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to present a request to obtain the cooperative use of one of their hydroelectric projects. At the conclusion of the presentation, the USBR representatives agreed to submit the request to utilize a powerhouse for demonstration to higher authorities.
The team is now waiting for selection and approval of an appropriate site to test and validate the algorithm and program, which is expected to optimize efficiency in operations and reduce wear and tear on high-value equipment.
For more information about industry partnerships and applied research, contact Lita Colligan, Associate Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, at email@example.com.
EPIC Students Attended Grace Hopper Conference
The 2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing was held in Portland, Oregon in November 2011. Several faculty members and female students from Oregon Tech’s EPIC (Expanding Participation in Computing) program attended the conference. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is named in honor of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneer in the field of computer science. Approximately 3,000 women attended the conference which was one of the largest gatherings of women in the technology-related fields ever.
At the conference, students and faculty attended various technical workshops as well as listened to inspirational keynote speeches. The conference also provided the women students the opportunity to network with other women in various stages of their careers.
The Expanding Participation in Computing (EPIC) program is designed to motivate and enable low-income and academically talented students – especially women, members of minority populations, students with disabilities, first-generation college students and those from rural communities – to earn baccalaureate degrees in Computer Engineering Technology, Software Engineering Technology, and Information Technology at Oregon Tech.
Civil Engineering Department Receives LeFevre Award
The Civil Engineering Department at Oregon Tech was recently honored with the 2012 Walter LeFevre Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), a national award that recognizes civil engineering departments that promote licensure, ethics and professionalism. The department has a fully licensed faculty, outstanding Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam pass rates (93 percent of graduates in 2011), and promotes professional skills and ethical practice at all levels of the curriculum in both civil engineering and general education coursework.
In selecting Oregon Tech, the ASCE Educational Activities Committee “particularly noted the Department’s exemplary promotion of licensure, ethics, and professionalism in engineering education in a small program.”
Eco Owl Vehicle Project
The Oregon Tech Eco Owl is a super high mileage diesel vehicle built as a senior project by eleven mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology students at Oregon Institute of Technology’s Klamath Falls campus. The team competed in the Prototype Diesel category of the 2012 Shell Eco-marathon Americas (SEMA) competition held in March in Houston, Texas. The Eco Owl placed third in the diesel prototype category with a best run of 683 mpg.
SEMA is a competition for efficient prototype vehicle designs, sponsored annually by Shell Oil Company since 2006. Vehicles compete in multiple fuel type categories such as diesel, gasoline, solar power, hydrogen power, and biodiesel. The Eco-marathon winners are determined by most energy or fuel efficient in each category.
The course is comprised of 10 laps in downtown Houston, totaling a distance of six miles. Fuel is measured at the start and finish of each course run to determine fuel efficiency. The technique for driving the SEMA course is much different from a normal vehicle competition. Since fuel economy is the focus, the technique for efficiently driving combustion engine vehicles is to engage the engine, get up to a pre-calculated top speed, then cut power to the engine and coast as far as possible around the track.
The Eco Owl team was tasked with upgrading and repairing an existing past SEMA entry to compete in the March 2012 competition. The vehicle was originally designed and built by one of the team members, Ivan Sack, and his family during his undergraduate years at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. While functional during past SEMA races, the vehicle was in need of several design changes and repairs to be fit for the 2012 competition.
The senior project team divided into smaller sub teams to work on different parts of the vehicle. Major efforts were focused on redesigning and building a new front steering system and creating a new “unibubble” canopy.
During competition, the Eco Owl completed seven full course runs with no on course break downs. Unlike the majority of entries, the full clear canopy afforded full 360 degree visibility, increasing drivability. Driver Jennine Chesler said the teams from all over the country stopped by their paddock to admire the canopy. “They thought it was the coolest thing about the Eco Owl. They kept asking us, “How did you do that?”
The team credits a partnership with Aqua Glass, a local manufacturer of tub and shower enclosures, for their success. “We’re so thankful for the use of their equipment and expertise. We simply couldn’t have accomplished what we did without their assistance,” said canopy team member Deidre Crowell.