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Engaging Minority Students in Sustainable Bioenergy and Water Quality through an Education and Research Network

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Krystel Castillo P.E. The University of Texas - San Antonio

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Dr. Krystel Castillo is currently the GreenStar Endowed Assistant Professor in Energy in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-Director of the Manufacturing Systems and Automation Laboratory at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
Dr. Castillo’s research expertise is in two primary areas. The first is mathematical programming and optimization techniques for analyzing large-scale, complex systems under uncertainty. The second is in big data analytics, which has applications to renewable energy, aerospace/defense industry, and logistics. Dr. Castillo has received more than $2 million in grant funding from agencies including: USDA, AFRL, CONACyT, NSF, among others.
She is among the core faculty of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems as well as of the Center for Simulation, Visualization, and Real Time Prediction at UTSA.

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Mauricio Cabrera-Rios University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez Orcid 16x16

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Mauricio Cabrera-Ríos obtained his doctoral degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2002. He currently holds an appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. He also co-leads the Applied Optimization Group.

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Michael W. Persans University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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1987-1991 B.S. in Biotechnology, Rochester Institute of Technology
1991-1998 Ph.D. in Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1998-2001 Postdoc in Plant Biology, Northern Arizona University
2001-2002 Postdoc in Plant Biology, Purdue University
2002-2008 Assistant Professor, Biotechnology, University of Texas Pan American
2008-2015 Associate Professor, Biotechnology, University of Texas Pan American
2015-Present Professor, Biotechnology, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Hudson R. DeYoe University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Expertise in water quality and algal physiology and culture. Interest in use of algae as biofuel.

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Growing energy demand is connected to water availability and climate change and it places additional stress on the environment. Thereby, It is critical to prepare the next generation of engineers and professionals to face the challenges in bioenergy, expand sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and enable climate-smart agriculture. To address this challenge, a career-oriented multidisciplinary educational model is being implemented at three minority-serving institutions.

This paper discusses the foundation of this educational program, which provides a robust response to the current sustainability issues by conducting multidisciplinary coordinated education, mentoring, research and extension activities among multiple universities and laboratories. This educational program aims to accomplish the ultimate goal of increasing minority participation in pursuing advanced degrees in STEM and attaining a diverse highly trained and skillful workforce with a strong pragmatic, experimental, analytical and computational background as well as scientific literacy in sustainable energy and the energy-water nexus.

In this model, students are expected to gain knowledge and understanding of the operational complexity of sustainable energy systems from source-to-use. Students will be able to conduct research and discovery from the feedstock properties passing through the conversion technologies to the mathematical modeling and optimization of the whole bioenergy value chain. In addition, students will be able to translate their findings in the laboratory regarding water quality and treatment into operational parameters to be included in comprehensive water systems models.

Castillo, K., & Cabrera-Rios, M., & Persans, M. W., & DeYoe, H. R. (2016, June), Engaging Minority Students in Sustainable Bioenergy and Water Quality through an Education and Research Network Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26966

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