In a nationally-competitive proposal process, UConn School of Engineering was one of only two schools in the country to receive funds to train the next generation of advanced manufacturing leaders.
The grant, which came from the federal Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, awarded $3.75 million combined to UConn and Georgia Tech, with UConn receiving $1.25 million over five years. As a result of this funding, the School of Engineering will start a master’s-level Advanced Manufacturing for Energy Systems (AMES) program, with classes commencing in the fall 2018 semester.
The proposal was led by Mechanical Engineering Professor Ugur Pasaogullari , and had several Co-PI’s, including: Michael Accorsi, senior associate dean of the School of Engineering; Avinash Dongare, materials science and engineering; Ioulia Valla, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Liang Zheng, electrical and computer engineering; Peter Luh, electrical and computer engineering; Michael T. Pettes, mechanical engineering; and Ali Bazzi, electrical and computer engineering.
According to the DOE, the traineeship program will focus on advancing critical science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines and competencies specifically relevant to the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s (AMO) mission, where other U.S. government or academic workforce development programs either do not exist or where Department of Energy (DOE)-relevant, early-stage technology areas are not being leveraged to support the DOE mission.
In the full proposal, Pasaogullari, along with his co-PI’s, pitched the DOE on a program which would feature a true interdisciplinary learning experience, with four different departments offering teaching and research expertise. Additionally, students would be interacting directly with industry, with Cabot Corporation; Proton On Site; Sustainable Innovations; United Technologies Research Center; Applied Power Systems; AzTrong; Quantum BioPower; Doosan Fuel Cells; Giner, Inc; and CT GreenBank signed on as partners for the proposal, with more companies expected to join as the program develops.
Students in the program will have the option of choosing either a traditional M.S. or a Master’s in Engineering (MENG) degree, which is structured towards full-time working professionals, and then they would choose a track in either advanced materials, processing, or sensing and `controls. Near the end of the program, students would tie all their learning together and participate in an internship with one of the industry partners, as well as perform thesis research or complete a capstone project related to a real-world problem, in conjunction with industry.
Those aspects, along with the introduction of soft skill courses, like engineering communications, were the differentiators for UConn, according to Pasaogullari:
“The typical master’s degree in engineering is very technical,” Pasaogullari said. “You take technical courses, analysis courses, and other courses related to your discipline and your research. But in this degree, in addition to the technical aspects, the students will be gaining communications skills, skills in project management, and will also interface directly with industry, which is what DOE was looking to establish.”
With the grant in hand, Pasaogullari and his co-PI’s will get to work recruiting the first cohort of students, who will begin their studies in the fall 2018 semester. The first class of students will total about 5-6, with more added every year.
Pasaogullari said that he is excited to start, and is looking forward to building a program that could have a large impact on the state manufacturing workforce and beyond:
“There is so much demand for skilled workers in current technologies like solar power and batteries, and new technologies like additive manufacturing,” Pasaogullari said. “With an advanced-level degree, the hope is that our graduates will be the managers and leaders of engineering teams that integrate these technologies, a few short years after they graduate—or sooner.”
To learn more about the program, or to express interest in the program, please contact Professor Ugur Pasaogullari at firstname.lastname@example.org.