The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a $52.5 million expansion of its Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) program, which currently operates at 31 universities, including UWM.
Assembling teams of faculty and students to perform assessments of energy usage at manufacturing plants and utilities, the centers help companies reduce energy and water consumption, while training the next generation of energy engineers.
For a March 8 virtual roundtable discussion following the announcement, the DOE chose UWM mechanical engineering doctoral student Farah Nourin—one of nearly 500 current students across the 31 campuses—to be the IAC student representative. The six other panelists included energy industry professionals with IAC program connections—IAC alumni or program managers, beneficiaries of IAC services, or employers of IAC alumni.
US Secretary of Energy and discussion moderator Jennifer Granholm asked Nourin about the UWM IAC assessment process and how the IAC prepares the next generation of energy engineers.
"It’s our privilege to know about the different companies’ activities—their technical skills, how they operate, their end-line goal, and how can we reduce the negative effect on the environment," Nourin said.
"Based on their situation, we can suggest to them, ‘You can go with solar, wind, or hydrology’—and differently—suggest tax credits or incentives like (the) ‘Focus on Energy’ program."
Nourin described other skills the IAC cultivates: leadership, as students direct the eight-person teams that conduct the assessments; time management, as students learn to fit IAC activities into their other academic work; and training, as IAC students conduct monthly training sessions with their peers, sharing their knowledge and experiences.
During the discussion, Granholm pointed out that Nourin was one of only five IAC students nationwide to earn a IAC Student of the Year Award for 2020. Another awardee, Mohammad Qandil, is also a UWM mechanical engineering doctoral student.
The UWM IAC is directed by mechanical engineering Professor Ryo Amano, who is also Nourin’s advisor.