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Energy Conservation in the Classroom

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Sustainability, Diversity, and STEM in Contemporary Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.562.1 - 22.562.23



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Paper Authors


Randy Dean Kelley University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

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Randy Kelley is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He earned a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering (Nuclear and Mechanical) at Texas A&M University, a Masters of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University, a Masters of Business Administration from West Texas A&M University, a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas State University and a Bachelors of Science in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University. He joined the faculty at UPJ in 2010 after finishing his doctoral degree at Texas A&M University. Prior to that, he worked as a mechanical engineer for Parker Drilling, Wichita Clutch and Utility Engineering.

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Amy L. Miller University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

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Amy Miller is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ). For 10 years, she worked for Johnstown America Corporation, a leading manufacturer of railroad freight cars, as a Design Engineer and Manager. She holds a M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Her teaching interests include Fluid Mechanics, Machine Design, and Finite Element Methods.

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Brandon Dooley Heat Transfer Research, Inc.

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Brandon Dooley is a research engineer at Heat Transfer Research, Inc. in College Station, TX. He holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University and is a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) in the state of Texas. He has taught university courses in the subjects of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and numerical methods and routinely teaches short-courses and workshops spanning topics from transport phenomena to process heat transfer. His research interests include experimental and computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer, energy systems, heat exchanger technology, and interfacial and phase-change phenomena in condensed matter physics. Dooley has previously conducted research and Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Energy Systems Laboratory. He is a member of the ASME, ASHRAE, IEEE, SIAM, and the American Physical Society.

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Energy Conservation in the ClassroomOne of the most important areas in mechanical engineering is energy production. This broadfield can be further subdivided into two primary areas: power generation and energyconservation. In recent years, there has been increasingly focused interest in generating powerfrom clean and renewable resources, particularly those that fall into the so-called green category.While academic efforts in the field of power generation have tended to evolve with thesechanging interests, teaching and research dedicated to the conservation of energy has remainedcomparatively static.From an analytical standpoint, many companies do not possess the in-house knowledge neededto fully assess the impact that simple energy conservation measures can have on their facilities ormanufacturing operations. This knowledge gap can often be bridged when plans for the moreefficient use of energy is correlated directly to monetary savings. Toward this end, theresponsible energy engineer must be fully adept in the appropriate engineering fundamentals andthe associated economics as well.Spurring renewed interest in the development and adoption of both new and existing energyconservation strategies must begin in the classroom. A distinct challenge faced by today’sinstructors teaching engineering courses concerned with the principles and practices of energyconservation is to not only create meaningful lectures, but also to provide students with practicaland engaging real-world experience. This paper presents an educational model designed to dojust that: to give students a strong theoretical foundation in energy conservation fundamentalsbolstered with realistic applications. Tailored towards upper-level undergraduates or beginninggraduate students, the prerequisites include undergraduate courses in heat transfer, fluidmechanics, thermodynamics, and engineering economics.For the proposed course, in-class time spent on recitation will be supplemented with field tripscrafted to improve the students’ practical understanding of the subject matter. The field trips,which will be undertaken monthly, will consist of the students and instructor visiting a nearbymanufacturing plant or production facility to conduct a comprehensive energy usage study. Priorto the beginning of the semester, the instructor will have made arrangements with the localparticipating affiliates and disclosed the mutual benefits of the program to each facility’smanagement. As an instructional tool for the students, the study will come at no cost to theaffiliates. As for the study itself, the students will be tasked with collecting energy consumptiondata for key processes or operations throughout the facility to establish a set of baseline energyusage profiles. These data will then be analyzed by the class to compile a list ofrecommendations that could improve the efficiency with which the facility uses energy. Inaddition, the annualized cost savings associated with implementing the suggested changes to thefacility’s energy management strategies or more specific items such as equipment modifications,repairs, or upgrades will be provided in a detailed report that will be compiled by the students.This report, which will be compiled by the students as part of their course grade, will be issued tothe affiliate within a few weeks of the site visit.

Kelley, R. D., & Miller, A. L., & Dooley, B. (2011, June), Energy Conservation in the Classroom Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17843

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