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Ohio State Energy Partners grants support innovation, sustainability

More than $800,000 in funding aids academic engagement

New philanthropic contributions from Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP), The Ohio State University’s comprehensive energy management partnership, will support students in exploring careers in sustainable energy and training in cutting-edge digital manufacturing, among other initiatives.

OSEP contributes $810,000 each year to the university or affiliated philanthropic causes as part of its commitment to academic engagement.

Grants include $44,000 to Michael Groeber, associate professor of additive manufacturing, for the Workforce Development for a Digital World program, which is based at the College of Engineering’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME).

The grant will fund the work of undergraduate interns who are studying digital manufacturing processes at CDME’s additive manufacturing and artificially intelligent manufacturing systems laboratories. The interns are majoring in areas such as computer science, electrical engineering and systems engineering.

“What we’re trying to do is just wet the feet of these students and see how we can push this forward and hopefully build a base for Ohio State in the future as a leader of digital manufacturing,” Groeber said.

Groeber said he and Jacob Rindler, a welding engineering doctoral candidate and CDME staff scientist, drafted the OSEP grant proposal to assist CDME’s undergraduate interns in analyzing data that cameras, sensors and other devices record during the digital manufacturing process.

The research examines how manufacturers can create unique items in small quantities, tailored to meet consumer demand, Groeber said.

“The more agile we can be in our manufacturing, the more agile we can be in everything else,” he said.

Another $35,000 OSEP grant has been awarded to Ramteen Sioshansi, professor of integrated systems engineering, for the Convergent Graduate Training and EmPOWERment for a Sustainable Energy Future program.

The program brings together Ohio State researchers with expertise in sustainable energy to teach students about innovations in the field and assist them in training for careers in the industry, Sioshansi said.

“The idea is to develop a program that’s going to provide the students with a more holistic exposure to issues that have to do with sustainable energy and sustainable energy systems than they would get typically just in doing a siloed PhD,” he said.

Students in the program are studying a variety of subject areas, from emerging technologies to behavioral sciences that evaluate how and why people adopt sustainable energy practices, said program director Diane Boghrat.

“We have a mix of students. Some students are interested in going the professorate route, and some are generally interested in the educational space. So maybe that would be K through 12, or maybe that would be in higher education,” she said.

“And then we have other students that are interested in working at national labs or in policy or technology spaces. We have students with a lot of varying interests, and that’s mainly because we have students in so many broad disciplines.”

Other OSEP grant award winners include:

  • $50,000 to Dawn Kitchen, associate dean of the Mansfield campus and professor of anthropology, to develop STEM leadership in traditionally underrepresented groups through near-peer mentoring, role modeling and experiential learning.
  • $50,000 to Lauren Koch, sustainability consultant, Health System – Shared Services, for zero waste initiatives at Wexner Medical Center locations.
  • $50,000 to Jacob Boswell, associate professor of landscape architecture, for the Sustainable Ohio Urban Landscape Lab.
  • $49,959 to Amy Youngs, associate professor, art and technology, for Emerge: The Network for Prototyping the Future.
  • $46,241 to G. Matt Davies, associate professor, soil and plant community restoration, for creating an ecosystem carbon account for Ohio State’s forest properties.
  • $42,976 to Ed McGowan, groundskeeper, Facilities Operations and Development, for creating a greener campus through zero emission landscape equipment.
  • $13,075 to Courtney Price, education and outreach specialist, Center for Applied Plant Sciences & Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center, for WestFest 2021: The West Campus Science & Sustainability Festival.
  • $12,698 to Brian S. Gaydos, mechanical engineering student and student assistant, Student Life – Recreational Sports Administration, to create a semester-long bike rental pilot program. 
  • $10,000 to Barbara Harvey, career counselor, Arts and Sciences – Center for Career and Professional Success, supporting the Career Accelerator Fund for Visual and Performing Arts.
  • $10,000 to Sathya Gopalakrishnan, associate professor, environmental economics, for the Professional Development for Sustainability Leadership program.

OSEP also dedicated $250,000 of its philanthropic contributions this year to College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences for the Ross Heart Garden Project; $50,000 to Deliver Black Dreams in partnership with the Greater Columbus Arts Council; $50,000 to the College of Engineering for the project: “Holistic Building Data Gathering for Optimized Energy Usage”; $31,151 to the Wexner Center for the Arts; $10,000 to Student Life to support their Residence Hall Energy Competition; and $5,000 to HACK OH/IO, a 24-hour hack-a-thon that attracts more than 800 participants annually for a full weekend of coding, building, learning, networking and innovation.

In 2017, the university and OSEP entered into the comprehensive energy management partnership, which launched an unprecedented energy efficiency program and established Ohio State as an international leader in sustainability. OSEP is a joint venture between ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure. The university’s Energy Academic Collaboration Council provides support for the grant program.

Full list of OSEP 2021 philanthropic contributions

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