Learning Factory Students Collaborate with PennTAP

Working with PennTAP, we received direct feedback from someone with real-world experience; it’s not the same as learning in the classroom.

—Student team member

The Need

PennTAP regularly conducts energy assessments with Pennsylvania businesses and organizations to help them reduce their energy consumption and costs. A typical assessment requires gathering data on 2,000 bulbs or more, each of which could require more than 400 data points. Transferring handwritten notes can result in multiple hours of manual work and lead to transcription errors.

The PennTAP Connection

PennTAP proposed, developed, and funded a program for students from the Penn State College of Engineering Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory to help improve internal assessment tools and procedures.

The Project

The students met weekly with PennTAP Technical Advisors to develop an in-depth understanding of the analytical tools used by PennTAP to perform energy assessments and to explore opportunities for process improvement. Student team members conducted weekly video conferences and in-person meetings to assess client needs, test prototypes, and receive feedback to improve the final product.

The Outcome

Students reviewed the spreadsheet-based assessment tools that PennTAP Technical Advisors use to develop energy-saving recommendations for a variety of systems, including compressed air, lighting, boilers, and climate control. The team then consolidated these tools into a single spreadsheet and developed a customized tablet input interface to enable one-hand data entry at the client site. This eliminated the need for paper notes that would later have to be transcribed, putting an end to hours of work and potential sources of error.