We are thrilled to announce and congratulate Yasmin Bimbatti, a talented researcher from UConn Tech Park’s Connecticut Center for Applied Separations Technologies (CCAST), on her remarkable achievement at the recent North American Membrane Society conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama earlier this month. Yasmin secured first prize in the competitive processes category for her poster on Printed Ultrathin film Nafion™ composite membranes by electrospray.
Yasmin’s achievement highlights the significance of applied separations technologies in solving critical challenges and advancing various industries. Her work not only contributes to the scientific community but also has the potential to make a real-world impact as it relates to manufacturing of membranes with this unique process invented at CCAST.
We extend our sincere congratulations to Yasmin for this well-deserved recognition. We would also like to express our gratitude to UConn’s Connecticut Center for Applied Separations Technologies for fostering an environment that encourages and supports groundbreaking research. This achievement is a testament to the center’s commitment to advancing knowledge and addressing societal challenges through applied separations technologies.
Amy Thompson, a proactive professor-in-residence at UConn’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and at the Pratt & Whitney Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering at the IPB, is actively engaged in advancing energy efficiency and sustainability in Connecticut communities. Her brainchild, SmartBuildings CT, has been a driving force in collaborating with municipalities and school districts to evaluate energy consumption in public buildings while offering essential technical support, education, and training. Thompson’s program employs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s complimentary Portfolio Manager tool, enabling monitoring and analysis of energy usage patterns while assigning valuable Energy Star scores for comprehensive benchmarking. By identifying underperforming buildings and sharing best practices, SmartBuildings CT helps towns allocate resources effectively for energy improvements.
In partnership with Energize CT, the state’s energy efficiency programs, and Sustainable CT, a nonprofit organization that supports sustainability actions in Connecticut towns, Thompson has enabled over 70 towns and school districts to benchmark more than 3,064 buildings to date, helping towns establish energy accounts and identify opportunities for energy improvements and cost savings. She also works with the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to expand SmartBuildings CT’s reach to privately owned commercial and industrial buildings, aiming to empower small and medium-sized businesses with advanced methods and tools for sustainable practices.
“I always admire the research and the methods that are created here at UConn,” Thompson says. “When I’m not teaching, the thing I’m really interested in doing is getting those advanced technologies and advanced methods into the hands of people in Connecticut communities and businesses more quickly, so that they can make an impact. What you don’t want is a barrier to that, and I feel like our program is an example of technology transfer and knowledge transfer. It’s a great way to support Connecticut.”
In recognition of these valuable contributions towards sustainability, Thompson was awarded the Partner of the Year award from Sustainable CT in 2022. Yet Thompson’s achievements do not stop there.
The SmartBuildings CT program also provides tremendous value for workforce development and training opportunities for UConn engineering students. Thompson brings students a broader perspective on engineering fields and the types of work they can pursue. Students like Julia De Oliveira ’22 (ENG) have found the program instrumental in exploring their interest in energy and sustainability. Julia, now employed at Collins Aerospace, says, “Dr. Thompson herself really supports the students and helps them in their next opportunities, guiding them to what they may be interested in. Where I’m at now pretty much wouldn’t be possible without the program and Dr. Thompson.” Another student, Mohammed Albayati, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, has gained practical experience in energy efficiency systems and environmental sustainability. “I’m very proud of working on this project with Professor Thompson… [and] gaining those professional skills through this program, including learning how to communicate professionally with stakeholders like municipal leaders, directors of finance and buildings, utility employees, and even selectmen and women and mayors,” he says.
SmartBuildings CT is a part of the Pratt & Whitney Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering (PW IASE), located at the Innovative Partnership Building at UConn Tech Park. For more information, visit techpark.uconn.edu.
For full article, see UConn Today here.
In the News
UConn and Yale collaboration “Quantum-CT” receives forward-thinking NSF Regional Innovations Engines grant. The award provides broad opportunities throughout Connecticut to positively impact our economy, address societal challenges, and create local, high-wage jobs.
This week at UConn Tech Park, Comptroller Sean Scanlon hosted a Rural Healthcare Summit, the second of an ongoing series of forums sponsored by his office to look at healthcare obstacles faced by Connecticut residents. The Summit brought together hospital leaders, doctors, elected officials, and patient advocates for a dynamic discussion on the unique healthcare challenges and opportunities facing rural Connecticut.
Comptroller Scanlon hosted six unique panels featuring diverse Connecticut experts, fostering constructive conversations on health equity, accessibility, affordability, specialized care, workforce training and retention, and substance abuse and mental health services.
UConn and U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced a new research partnership in October 2022. Hosted at UConn Tech Park, the collaboration will address global energy challenges including energy efficiency and resiliency, renewable energy technologies, and smart grid innovation, helping shape the response to these critical challenges of the 21st century.
Emmanouil Anagnostou, interim Executive Director of UConn Tech Park, and Junbo Zhao, Eversource Energy Center Grid Modernization Lead at IPB have started joint positions as Research Scientists at NREL under the partnership. They will be affiliated with the Grid Automation and Controls Group at NREL.
Among the many goals of the partnership, UConn and NREL will work together to develop solutions to clean energy challenges in the Northeast and increase funding opportunities not otherwise available to either individual institution. The program also enables undergraduate and graduate students to work jointly with NREL scientists and UConn faculty.
“I am proud that UConn is playing an important role in this crucial sector, and I am excited to see the creativity and determination our faculty and students bring to this work.” UConn President Radenka Maric says.
“NREL sees the partnership with UConn as a critical part of achieving clean energy at scale that brings together talent from both institutions to further our collective goals,” says Dr. Ellen Morris, director of University Partnerships at NREL.
UConn Tech Park welcomes our newest center, UConn’s Southern New England Industrial Assessment Center (SNE-IAC). SNE-IAC makes significant contributions toward a clean environment, helping New England manufacturers improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint while training a new generation of students in methods that improve industrial energy efficiency.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, SNE-IAC provides energy audit services at no cost to eligible manufacturers located within a 150-mile radius in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Greater New York area. The service helps companies identify and address problem areas, resulting in reductions in carbon emissions, energy costs, and annual energy consumption by an anticipated 10%. The team also provides outreach and education opportunities to nonparticipating manufacturers in the region. Manufacturers can sign up for an audit on the center’s website.
Directors Dr. Liang Zhang, Dr. Amy Thompson, and Dr. Ravi Gorthala lead center activities and partner with UConn Tech Park, CT utility companies Eversource and United Illuminating, and other industrial partners in outreach efforts and to provide recommendations and implementation guidance to clients. They employ seven students who are gaining valuable hands-on experience in conducting audit assessments in a variety of different manufacturing environments.
The IAC team is enthusiastic about the program’s potential to reduce manufacturers’ annual energy consumption that can ultimately improve their overall energy efficiency and sustainability.
Since its inception in 2022, IAC has made excellent progress and is on track to achieve its goal of 10 audits in the first year, increasing to a target of 20 audits per year within the next five years. Nine audits have been completed, with an additional six audit requests in the queue. Three student assessors now have the level of experience required to be eligible for an IAC Certificate from the U.S. DoE, a credential that demonstrates their energy and industrial expertise.
As one of the nation’s newer IACs, it was a great honor for the UConn team to welcome the US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, at the IPB in May 2022, along with Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney and UConn President Dr. Radenka Maric. During her visit to the lab, Secretary Granholm met with faculty and students before attending a press conference, where one of the center’s students had the privilege of introducing her.
IAC’s industrial advisory board is made up of strategic industrial partners including Connecticut state agencies, utility companies, and manufacturing organizations and includes Connecticut’s Chief Manufacturing Officer, Paul Lavoie.
The Innovation Partnership Building hosted a four-day kickoff meeting this month with the first cohort of the Future Climate Venture Studio: six selected companies creating solutions across a range of critical areas of climate and sustainability including energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and financial services solutions.
The companies selected to the first cohort are:
Applied Bioplastics (Austin, TX) – appliedbioplastics.com
Clean Crop Technologies, Inc. (Holyoke, MA) – cleancroptech.com
Cool Amps Corp., (New Haven, CT) – coolamps.tech
GreenPortfolio (New York, NY) – greenportfolio.com
INOVUES (Houston, TX) – inovues.com
Urban Stalk (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) – urbanstalk.ca
Future Climate Venture Studio, launched in September 2022, is taking an entrepreneurial approach to tackling the climate change crisis. Its mission is to identify, support, and collaborate with the startups addressing the most critical dimensions of the climate challenge, including decarbonization, alternative energy, planetary resilience, social impact, and more.
The program and its partners will provide the selected companies with access to industry and UConn faculty experts, capital investment from R/GA Ventures, technology facilities at the Innovation Partnership Building at UConn, as well as guidance from the Studio’s Investor-in-Residence, Cody Simms from MCJ Collective, a media platform and investment fund powering innovative climate solutions.
The studio is led by the University of Connecticut, a national and global leader in interdisciplinary climate research, in partnership with R/GA Ventures, a leading venture studio operator and early-stage investor; and CTNext, a state agency dedicated to public-private partnership to catalyze Connecticut’s innovation ecosystem.
The event marks the latest in a series of investments and initiatives for UConn as it establishes itself as a leader in climate change and clean energy research and innovation. Working with other institutions and industrial leaders, the University has expanded its influence and worked lockstep with state leaders toward the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
“The selected companies align perfectly with UConn’s mission to contribute valuable research toward clean energy production and reducing dependence on carbon-based fuels,” says Pamir Alpay, UConn’s interim Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. “Our faculty and students are committed to the solutions that will steer us toward a cleaner energy future.”
“The transition to a green economy is an increasingly crucial focus to produce positive change for our world and markets. Therefore, sustainability is a core value at CTNext and a major factor in where we invest as an organization to generate a stronger innovation ecosystem in Connecticut. In supporting this first cohort, we’re excited to showcase how our regional resources and relationships can drive greater impact both on a local and national level,” says Onyeka Obiocha, Executive Director at CTNEXT.
Additional partners include CT Innovations, the state of Connecticut’s venture capital arm; Connecticut Green Bank, the nation’s first green bank; the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA); technology leader Oracle Corporation; and investor partners such as Cimbria Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, and others.