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Optimizing Thermal Energy Storage For Cogeneration Applications: A Faculty And Engineering Technology Student Collaboration Using Excel

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Applications in Mechanical ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.969.1 - 9.969.15

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Paper Authors

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Francis Di Bella

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

PAPER 2004-376 Energy Conversion and Conservation Division (ECCD)

Optimizing Thermal Energy Storage for Cogeneration Applications: A Faculty and Engineering Technology Student Collaboration Using Excel

Francis A. Di Bella, PE Assistant Professor Northeastern University, Boston, MA Mechanical Engineering Technology

Mr. Andres Chamarro III M. E. T. Student (cl. of 2003)

Abstract This paper has a two-fold purpose. Not only does it solve a significant engineering problem and present a solution for the optimization of thermal energy storage for use in cogeneration systems applications but it also identifies the importance of one-on-one faculty –student research and it how excel software can overcome the need for higher- level mathematics. The problem is a familiar one to the engineers who must determine the optimum size of a thermal storage system that is not too large or too small for a customer’s thermal demand while matching it with the correct cogeneration system size (kwe). The problem’s solution however becomes an opportunity to enlist the help of an undergraduate student to help solve a fairly complicated problem. This pedagogy is seen as critical and necessary to the education of the engineering technology student; building self-confidence in his/her analytical skills to solve the problem via a “simple” spreadsheet that would otherwise require calculus and optimization techniques. No sooner has the student followed and contributed to the solution’s methodology that he realizes that he has actually used a probabilistic method in its solution: The Monte Carlo Method, a term that perhaps would frighten the student if revealed earlier but now becomes a part of his solutions “tool box”. This paper reports on the pedagogy of this collaboration as well as the useful results that were obtained.

Introduction There is increasing emphasis in college education for undergraduates to conduct some level of research with their faculty mentors. Engineering Technology students are also expected to have a “hands-on” experience with real world problems that are faced by engineering professionals. This paper is a summary of the experience of one faculty mentor and his undergraduate colleague to combine both of these requirements into an effective educational experience for the student and the instructor.

The first requirement is that the problem that needs to be solved must not only be a real- world engineering problem but one that has some reasonable likely hood of being solved in the time allowed. The only other requirement is that the student be a valued member of the team; taking on responsibilities that are essential to the project and ones that the faculty mentor would need to do if assistance were not available…in other words: no “make-work”, please. Meeting these two criteria results in benefit for both the student and the faculty mentor. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society of Engineering Education

Di Bella, F. (2004, June), Optimizing Thermal Energy Storage For Cogeneration Applications: A Faculty And Engineering Technology Student Collaboration Using Excel Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015