Penn State Engineering Students Gain Valuable Experience while Conducting Energy Assessments

Penn State engineering students work alongside PennTAP senior engineers performing pollution prevention and energy efficiency assessments for industrial manufacturing facilities. In this way, students receive the opportunity to work on real-world engineering projects.

One objective of this program is to give the students some exposure in field testing and data analysis to identify waste reduction and energy conservation opportunities. Another objective is for the student to learn and embrace a proactive, economically responsible energy and environmental conservation ethic that is sustainable. An important aspect of this student engineering experience is the emphasis that is placed on the importance of interpersonal oral and written communication skills in engineering.

Since 2009, more than 40 engineering students have been engaged with PennTAP for a total of more than 14,300 student hours to conduct 144 industrial pollution prevention and energy efficiency assessments. Industry sectors assessed include electronics, hospitals, industrial machine manufacturing, transportation, and printing, and manufacturers of chemicals, food, glass, metals, plastics, powdered metals, wood, and ceramic and medical products. Verified results of these assessments include the following:

  • Saving almost $1,650,000 per year in energy and waste management costs
  • Reducing water consumption by more than 27,000,000 gallons per year
  • Saving more than 26,000,000 kWh per year in electricity consumption (This is equivalent to the annual energy use of 2,900 households.)
  • Reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE) per year (This is equivalent to removing 9,000 cars from the highway.)

A few student comments include:

“I have attached the report for the client’s high-efficiency replacement motors. I feel like after a while it all made sense. It was kinda fun!”

“Working with PennTAP allowed me to see in person the challenges and responsibilities that engineers face in the workplace.”

“The one-on-one consulting experiences with clients and hands-on field work made a lasting impression that will follow me throughout my career.”

Established in 1965 as one of the nation’s first technical assistance programs, PennTAP is a resource organization within Penn State that provides technical assistance to Pennsylvania’s manufacturers, businesses, and industries.