Climate

Moving Beyond Implications: Research into Policy Inaugural Conference

UConn Tech Park responded to a call for researchers to shape policies that optimize benefit to Connecticut’s communities, environment, and economy. Interim Executive Director Emmanouil Anagnostou and Professor George Bollas, along with other researchers and academicians, participated in the inaugural “Moving Beyond Implications: Research into Policy” conference at the State Capitol. This event fosters collaboration between policymakers and researchers, promoting evidence-based policymaking in the state. Anagnostou and Bollas presented topics related to the impact of extreme rainfall on water infrastructure and non-carbon-based fuels, respectively, contributing to the dynamic discussion on how scientists can inform future policy decisions for impactful results.

Check out the UConn Today article, “Conference to Unite Legislators and Scientists in Joint Effort to Strengthen Connecticut” for additional details on the conference’s objectives and background.

Co-organizers State Rep. Jaime Foster and Kerri Raissian provide post-conference commentary in the CT Mirror article, “For progress, put Connecticut lawmakers and researchers in the same room.”

UConn Students Help ASSA ABLOY Advance a Sustainable Future

A sustainable green office building with a green roof

Connecticut and University of Connecticut (UConn) are national leaders in Clean Energy and Sustainability. UConn was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead a nationwide decarbonization effort, centrally coordinating critical activities that can facilitate the adoption of Onsite Sustainable Energy Technologies among large energy users. This honor builds upon UConn’s reputation as a national leader in advancing clean energy.

UConn’s Innovation Partnership Building (IPB) at UConn Tech Park is a focal point for businesses interested in reducing their carbon footprint. By connecting companies to critical energy research, incredible high-tech facilities, and programs like Senior Design projects and professional education, the IPB is committed to driving progress in sustainability, and securing a sustainable, efficient, and profitable future powered by clean energy.

Recently, the IPB began conversations with ASSA ABLOY on applying state-of-the-art research towards achieving ASSA ABLOY’s sustainability commitments. Discussions led to options for student engagement, particularly through UConn’s Senior Design program.

Each year, UConn’s School of Engineering capstone Senior Design program engages seniors, faculty, and industry in a yearlong partnership to develop and apply innovative solutions to engineering challenges faced in real-life business settings.

In 2023, over 240 Senior Design projects were sponsored by more than 120 global and domestic participating organizations representing manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical, consulting, and utilities sectors. Students and their supporting faculty advisor work together with an industry sponsor to develop solutions to real-life problems in the field. The students research and analyze the problem, conceptualize design solutions and present solutions that can make a real difference to local industry and the state of Connecticut.

Recognizing the potential of enlisting student help to achieve their sustainability goals, ASSA ABLOY sponsored two UConn Senior Design projects.

ASSA ABLOY is the global leader in access solutions, operating in over 70 countries around the world with industry leading innovation and technology, making them a perfect fit as a sponsor for the Senior Design projects.

ASSA ABLOY supported three Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Engineering teams with two projects: reduced carbon footprint door construction, and improved materials for door-locking cylinder products for increased security. Through mentorship from ASSA ABLOY employees Dan Glover, Product Manager, Door Group; Dan Picard, Senior Director of Innovation, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Americas; and Clyde Roberson, Director of Product Management and Tech Services, Medeco Security Locks, the student teams spent two semesters dedicating hundreds of hours to their projects. Final projects were presented at an end-of-year public demonstration, where hundreds of teams shared their projects and findings.

UConn Senior Design Day Gampel Pavilion 2023
UConn Senior Design Day 2023, Gampel Pavilion

“The projects we sponsored were based on some real challenges we have,” Picard explains. “We can only do so much with our limited resources, specifically on challenges surrounding science-based targets and materials themselves. We don’t have materials scientists or materials engineers in-house, so we must go to the experts. Fortunately, UConn has a wealth of experience and knowledge, so it made sense to sponsor the Senior Engineering Capstone projects.”

Sponsoring these projects also gave ASSA ABLOY the opportunity to meet new subject matter experts in these different areas and collaborate with UConn’s faculty. Picard affirms that “The engineering teams at UConn have access to some amazing technology, such as theoretical tools that help us to understand how materials function. These tools enabled the door construction project to do finite element analysis and see potential product failure points through all different types of door assemblies. They could test different amounts of force and impact resistance. This is something we do in our test lab, but they were able to simulate on a computer. The expertise of this software is something we don’t have in-house.”

Out of the 240 teams participating in Senior Design, one of ASSA ABLOY’s sponsored teams placed 3rd in the Materials Science and Engineering department competition. The project that focused on improving door locking cylinders for increased security and drill resistance, involved in-depth research of harder and tougher materials that improve the product but are easier to manufacture and machine.

UConn Senior Design Day Gampel Pavilion 2023
UConn Senior Design MSE team 3rd place winners: Jonathan Bane, Matthew Carragher & Charles Schwarz

“This team placing third is huge,” Glover explains. “They were competing against major companies and corporations like Sikorsky Helicopter, NASA, and Pratt and Whitney. They were also featured in UConn’s magazine, where only four projects were listed. It was an exciting achievement for them and for us as sponsors.”

What’s next for these winning ideas? They aren’t just forgotten at the end of the year. The work by the sponsored teams is being served as a baseline to kick-start new innovation initiatives at ASSA ABLOY.

“The teams at UConn provided us with ideas and insights that will help guide our future product development,” according to Picard. “We were beyond impressed with the results, particularly in lowering the CO2 footprint of the door, while maintaining its performance and integrity, and the investment was worth it. We had a real-life problem and were able to share our experiences with the students. In exchange, they provided us with hundreds of hours of research and offered potential solutions to our challenges.”

Both Glover and Picard comment on invaluable personal experiences during the program. “It’s an extra “above and beyond” what we normally do, but I learned so much,” Glover says. “I thank ASSA ABLOY for the opportunity to get involved and I would recommend we do it again in a heartbeat! It is such an enlightening experience and working with young engineers that see problems differently is energizing. We are helping develop our next generation of innovators and potential ASSA ABLOY teammates – it’s so rewarding.”

If your organization is interested in sponsoring a future UConn Senior Design project or partnering with IPB at UConn Tech Park to advance efficiency and competitiveness through sustainability, we would love to hear from you. Please contact:

Senior Design

Charles B. Maric
Director of Technical Business Development, Senior Design Projects
UConn School of Engineering
Charles.Maric@UConn.edu
860-428-2258

IPB Partnership for Sustainability

Michael DiDonato
Business Development Manager
Innovation Partnership Building at UConn Tech Park
Michael.DiDonato@UConn.edu
203-671-8719

 

Supporting Startups Striving for a Sustainable Future

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.