Student collaboration connects with Discovery Themes at INNOVATE-O-thon

The Institute for Materials Research (IMR) cast a wide net to land the diverse collection of students and faculty taking aim during the most recent INNOVATE-O-thon at improving energy efficiency at the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

 

Faculty members hired through different focus areas of the Ohio State’s Discovery Themes Initiative joined nearly 50 students from across colleges to try their hands in helping shape the future of energy consumption at the land-grant university.

 

The students’ challenge: Develop a strategy to inspire nearly 60,000 students at the 485-building campus to alter their day-to-day, energy-use habits and, ultimately, push the Columbus campus toward its lofty goal to improve energy efficiency by at least 25 percent over 10 years.

 

“INNOVATE-O-thon, I’ve done it twice in the past, and it’s always kind of fun to interact with people from different backgrounds,” said Muhammad Shao, a major in mechanical engineering. “It’s good to hear different perspectives. I’ve realized, from the past, that design majors are just as important as engineering majors.”

 

The students’ strategies were pitched to a panel of representatives from ENGIE, which makes up half of a joint venture with Axium Infrastructure called Ohio State Energy Partners, responsible for the operation and maintenance of the central utility systems that heat, cool and power the Columbus campus.

 

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Sustainable energy and student engagement intersect at INNOVATE-O-thon

 

The Ohio State University’s energy partner ENGIE challenged students to help achieve one goal: improve energy efficiency through positive behavioral changes on campus.

 

The students accepted.

 

During the latest INNOVATE-O-thon event, nearly 50 undergraduate students from varying disciplines came together, from Feb. 9 to 11 at the Institute for Materials Research (IMR) Innovation Lab on Kinnear Road, to work with representatives from ENGIE and IMR.

 

There, students formed strategies aimed to inspire fellow classmates to alter their energy consumption habits and, in turn, improve energy efficiency at the Columbus campus.

 

IMR hosted the three-day externship program in collaboration with Ohio State’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

 

Throughout the course of the event, students developed a myriad of concepts that were ultimately pitched to ENGIE, including mobile app and technology-based engagement efforts, education and training programs, awareness campaigns and cross-campus partnerships.

 

“I am really glad that ENGIE reached out to students to help with this,” said winning-group member Lauren Trapani, a second-year student in environment, economy, development and sustainability. “We know what is feasible to change in our behavior, and what is infeasible.”

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