There are multiple active research projects in the areas of Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Smart Manufacturing, Additive Manufacturing, Ergonomics, Machine Learning, and Operations Research. The research activities are supported by the following laboratories.
The Department has quality research laboratories in manufacturing, robotics and vision systems, CAD/CAM, operations research, production planning and control, decision sciences, ergonomics, industrial hygiene and safety. Research initiatives and on-going funding opportunities are available to students in the areas of:
- operations research
- occupational safety and health
- artificial intelligence
- respirator research
- industrial ergonomics lab
Ventilation Control and Exposure Assessment Modeling Laboratory
The Ventilation Controls and Worker Exposure Modeling Laboratory is currently used for research to model contaminant concentrations near a worker's body. Current practice in exposure assessment is to take samples at the chest of the worker. It is assumed that such samples give concentrations that are equal to the worker's inhaled concentrations. We suggest that under some important conditions that samples taken at the chest are substantially different from inhaled concentrations, leading to overestimation of actual exposures in some cases and overestimation in others. We will compare the values in inhaled air to concentrations found at several sites on the body. If a site (e.g., at the neck) gives results closer to the inhaled air than chest samples, we will recommend that future sampling be done at that site. If no site gives accurate results, we will model the relationships between concentrations at different sites and inhaled air to allow for prediction of inhaled concentrations using samples taken at other locations. If models are too complicated or too inaccurate for field use, we will suggest that future samples be taken at the mouth and nose.
As a secondary objective, we will compare experimental results using human subjects to experimental results using mannequins. If they are the same for a diverse range of conditions, then mannequins could be used with confidence in the future. We will compare human subject results to results using computational fluid dynamics models for the same reasons. If the CFD models are accurate, they can be used to predict the effects of changes to conditions on human exposures without the cost, time, and limitations of studies using human subjects. Ismail Celik of MAE is collaborating on the study and is responsible for the CFD modeling efforts.
In the near future, we will submit grant proposals to study the effectiveness of hoods used to control worker exposures to airborne contaminants. Although the effectiveness of hoods is extremely important to protecting worker health, they are currently designed based on plausible but completely unproven assumptions. In addition, little is known about the effects of environmental conditions on hood effectiveness. This research will seek to provide solid guidance to ventilation engineers in designing and operating hoods for contaminant control.
The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Development, Inc. is a non-profit corporation managed by the Department. Through the Center, graduate students may have an opportunity to consult with many different kinds of businesses. In such projects, graduate students earn additional income while gaining experience in their professional specialty. Center projects offer a unique opportunity for graduate students to experience the research needs of industry and fashion a thesis topic that extends the frontiers of knowledge while being of value to industry.
Tenured faculty from accredited U.S. engineering schools guide senior and graduate engineering students as they analyze your plant's energy use. These faculty/student teams are at your plant one-two days with minimal disruption to your plant's operation. About 60 days after the audit, the team prepares a formal, confidential report, recommending specific energy-efficient actions and estimating their costs and pay-back periods. The audits often reveal simple ways to cut energy use quickly with very small capital investment. Also, they generally lead to increased productivity and provide environmental benefits by increasing energy efficiency.
A component of the National Energy Strategy, the IAC program is a major energy conservation initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE currently funds 30 schools through the program. IAC's provide the energy audit at no cost to your company. The host school also provides Workman's Compensation and liability insurance for the team members.
Since it began in 1976, the IAC program has:
- Conducted more than 5000 industrial audits
- Recommended cumulative savings of more than $500 million
- Identified energy conservation action
Typical energy-conserving actions can be as elaborate as installing a management system for limiting peak energy demand or as simple as shutting off a heater in an empty room. Additional recommendations include adjusting temperatures on process equipment and installing energy-efficient fluorescent lamps and energy-efficient motors. Manufacturers currently implement about 50 percent of the recommendations, with individual manufacturers.
The audit is available for all types of manufacturing. You are eligible for IAC services if your plant's products are within the standard industrial classification codes 20 through 39 and you are located within about 150 miles (242 kilometers) of the host campus. Your plant must also meet the following criteria:
- Have gross annual sales of $75 million or less
- Employ no more than 500 people
- Consume energy at a cost of $1.75 million/year or less
- Have no technical staff to do energy analysis
The NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium was established in August 1991. It includes seven universities and four colleges in West Virginia.
West Virginia University is the lead institution. The consortium is housed in the Statler College on the Evansdale Campus of WVU.
The mission of the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium is to develop a statewide infrastructure that will enhance the state's competitiveness in research, education, and industrial activities.
Specifically, the Consortium aims to capture, channel and enhance the interests and activities of current and potential scientists, engineers and other related professions in its member institutions. To achieve this goal, the consortium is organized into three major categories:
- Promote and support research efforts of consortium faculty and students in areas of interest to NASA
- Increase community support through effective communication of the consortium's mission in regard to the importance of science, engineering and space-related education and research activities to the economic climate of West Virginia
- Enhance the interests and enthusiasm of K-12 students in science, engineering, mathematics, and space-related disciplines.