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Learning through a Community-based Energy Conservation Project

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Community Engagement in Engineering Education Projects

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1077.1 - 26.1077.8



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Paper Authors


Christine Zakzewski The University of Scranton

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Christine Zakzewski is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Electrical Engineering at The University of Scranton, where she has served as department chair for the past 8 years and has taught for the past 22 years. Dr. Zakzewski is the faculty mentor for the engineering student honor society of IEEE-HKN, and she is a member of the institutional animal care and use committee. She received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and M.S and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University. Research interests include iontophoretic transdermal delivery, assistive devices, early detection of delirium, and early detection of gait instability. She teaches lecture and lab courses in Circuit Analysis, Electronic Circuits, Control Systems, Engineering Mathematics, and introductory Physics. Address: The University of Scranton, Department of Physics & Electrical Engineering, Loyola Science Center Rm 235, 204 Monroe Avenue, Scranton, PA 18510-4642. Phone: 570-941-7509. Email:

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Mark Robert Murphy Sr. University of Scranton, Director of Sustainability

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Director of Sustainability at University of Scranton. Graduated from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in Physics. A key member of the facilities operations team for the past twenty-two years. I have been involved with nearly $300 million in new construction and renovations over the past twenty years. Originated, planned, specified, bid, and managed many millions of dollars in successful energy saving projects. Enjoy sharing our experiences and knowledge with our students, the University community and the local community. Raising awareness to sustainable practices by being an example, organizing campus events, guest presenting, and student involvement.

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Michael Mahon Ph.D. Abington Heights School District

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Michael Mahon is the superintendent of the Abington Heights School District in Northeast Pennsylvania. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from the University of Scranton and his doctorate from Marywood University. He began his career as a science teacher later accepting positions as assistant principal and high school principal. He has been a superintendent for the past 15 years and is currently working on an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Learning through a Community-based Energy Conservation ProjectLocal school district representatives asked our engineering department to work with them toidentify potential projects to conserve both fiscal and environmental resources, and we quicklyagreed to this partnership. The project team included the district’s Superintendent and BusinessManager, junior electrical and computer engineering students, a faculty mentor, and theuniversity’s Director of Sustainability.Students were introduced to energy metering and billing, sustainability, and the environmentalimpact of power usage. Students were given web access to real time utility data from smartmeters, annual electricity costs, and square footage for eight school district buildings. Studentteams evaluated available data, and developed project proposals and site survey plans based ontheir research. Teams focused on computers and technology; plumbing and interior lighting;kitchen appliances and lab hoods; and building automation schedules and exterior lighting.Students were given weekend access to the high school to implement their site plan, and to makedirect measurements of power consumption and light intensity. Students completed final reportsthat included results of their site survey, recommendations, and expected energy savings and costsavings. Student team recommendations included suggested use of software to automaticallyshut down student computer systems at night to save an estimated 140,000 kWh/year, upgradesto low-flush toilets to save an estimated 10,000 gallons of water per year per toilet, and upgradesto outdoor lighting to more energy efficient LEDs to provide long-term savings in both energyand maintenance costs.This project had significant impact on the student participants; 38% obtained an internship in theenergy industry, and 50% accepted full time employment in the energy industry upon graduation.These numbers are more than twice the typical average seen in previous engineering graduates.The school district has implemented recommendations from the report, and continues toreference the document in their ongoing conservation efforts.

Zakzewski, C., & Murphy, M. R., & Mahon, M. (2015, June), Learning through a Community-based Energy Conservation Project Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24414

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