Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

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Summer Offers College Students Valuable Exposure to Green Research

Intern Brock Bursott at Mueller Co. FoundryCollege students interested in sustainability research are making summer count at ISTC and in workplaces across the state. They are counting kilowatts reduced, tons of waste diverted, dollars saved, and other profitable metrics.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is hosting six students as interns with funding shared by the Center as well as the Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies.

Corporate sponsors applied to accept the students for energy and resource conservation projects at the worksites. The companies get intensive focus on ways they can cut costs and save money, while the students get the chance to contribute meaningful improvements in competitive companies.

“As part of the U of I, we take seriously the responsibility of preparing the next generation of tech-savvy professionals for a sustainable future, said Debra Jacobson, senior operations manager of ISTC's technical assistance program.

Ryan Goewert, a mechanical engineering student at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville (SIUE), is working at Carlisle SynTec Systems in Greenville, IL. There he is working with ISTC engineers on energy efficiency of electric motors and curing ovens. He is also performing cost-benefit analyses of chilled water systems and geo-thermal energy.

Jennifer Gerwitz, who is studying civil engineering at SIUE, is assisting Eaton B-Line in Troy, IL with zero waste manufacturing processes.

Madeline Kull, a civil and environmental engineering student at the U of I, Urbana-Champaign, is involved with reducing waste at the Center by developing an organics diversion program for food waste and an on-site composter at ISTC's Champaign headquarters. In addition to helping the Center toward a zero-waste goal, the work will also serve as a training and education resource for future clients of the Center.

Brock Bursott, a mechanical engineering student at Bradley University is working on energy efficiency projects at Mueller Co. Foundry in Decatur, IL.

Madeleine Turk is at Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC, in St. Elmo, IL, working on natural gas efficiency for a production boiler and the implementation of an energy management system to improve energy efficiency. She is studying civil and environmental engineering at U of I, Urbana-Champaign.

Other students are working in ISTC labs and offices under the Center's Sponsored Research Grant Program.

At ISTC's Oak Brook office, Dana Valentine is analyzing food scrap waste generation and compost market development in the Chicago area. She will be a senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, where she is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with minors in Spanish and Environmental Studies.

Thomas Ng, who graduated this spring from the U of I's department of agricultural and biological engineering, is working with ISTC engineer Srirupa Ganguly on research determining growth and nutrient removal rates of algae growing in saline wastewater as a potential use for saline wastewater in Illinois.

Cole Connors is continuing to assist with the Roadway Right-of-Way to Energy work this summer with John Scott. He is also helping with a project focused on improving the characterization of hydraulic fracking fluids. He graduated in June from U of I in communications, with considerable background in chemistry.

Brandon Michael Holliday is assisting Sriraam Chandrasekaran with research on thermochemical methods to invent new uses for sub-micron sized biochar particles. He will be a senior in environmental health at Illinois State University.

Quan Zhang, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is assisting with experiments on the hydrothermal liquefaction of waste plastics such as PVC, ABS, etc.

Shahrzad Hosseinnezhad, graduate student in energy and environmental science at North Carolina A&T University, is assisting with bio-oils research, specifically characterization of bio-modified asphalt and distillates.

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