WMU establishes interdisciplinary energy center with grant from U.S. Department of Energy

Contact: Liz VandenHeede

Dr. Pablo Gomez

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Today’s energy systems are facing major challenges: Carbon emissions need to be reduced and the reliability, security and efficiency of delivering energy to customers need to be increased and improved.  

In an effort to tackle these challenges, Western Michigan University has established the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Secure, Efficient and Sustainable Energy Technology. The center brings together researchers, expertise and resources from multiple STEM disciplines across the University and is funded by a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The research work of the center is initially focused on grid integration of renewable energy, cybersecurity of the smart grid and transportation electrification,” says Dr. Pablo Gomez, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and principal investigator on the grant. “This is expected to expand as seed grants are selected and new team members are added to the center.”

The center is housed in Western's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and includes researchers from the Haworth College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. The team is working together toward the collective goal of advancing energy technology to benefit society.

“Energy challenges are interdisciplinary in nature. Besides technical challenges that involve many engineering disciplines and applied sciences, there are equally relevant aspects that we are interested in exploring with the help of experts, such as climate change and sustainability, energy economy and policies, risk assessment, among other essential topics,” says Gomez.

The center will also support educational and training experiences for students, which will be important for their future success in the global market. According to a recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report, the energy sector outperformed the rest of the economy in terms of job creation.

“We are proud to host this center,” says Dr. Steven Butt, dean of WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Leading the way with innovative research, collaborating among STEM disciplines and providing hands-on learning and research experiences for students are integral to the Western experience.”

Involved in the project are Gomez from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Shameek Bhattacharjee, assistant professor of computer science; Dr. Rick Meyer, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Dr. Xiaoyun Shao, professor of civil and construction engineering; Dr. Mert Atilhan, associate professor of chemical and paper engineering; Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems; Dr. Daniel Macfarlane, associate professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; and Dr. Bade Shrestha, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

For more information on the center and its research, contact Gomez or visit the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Secure, Efficient and Sustainable Energy Technology online.

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