Last week the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s (AMO) Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program was recognized during a bipartisan briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Speakers commended the significant impact that the IAC program has on manufacturers and students alike.

The Department of Energy's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Dr. Kathleen Hogan, highlighted the important role that the IACs play in addressing an underserved population of small- and medium-sized manufacturers. The approximately 500 assessments that IACs conduct each year yield substantial energy savings for companies that wouldn’t otherwise have the time or resources to dedicate to energy management programs. Looking forward to the next 40 years, Dr. Hogan noted the new ways IACs are engaging in partnerships so we can get more value for each federal dollar spent on the program. IAC collaborations with outside partners include:

  • 14 state energy offices
  • 19 Manufacturing Extension Partnerships
  • 26 trade and other associations
  • 19 federal, state, and other organizations
  • More than 90% of IACs are collaborating with utilities companies

Other speakers included Dr. Michael R. Muller, IAC technical field manager at Rutgers University; Bert Hill, Volvo Group North America; and Dr. Sudhakar Neti, Founding Director and current Assistant Director of the Lehigh University IAC. Both Dr. Muller and Dr. Neti discussed the ideal IAC student: a gifted engineer who is curious and creative. They also talked about how important the program is to small- and medium-sized manufacturers because they desperately need help and information. One of the only problems they see is that the students are actually too attractive to manufacturers because their energy management skills make them such strong candidates for internships and full-time positions. Graduates of the IAC program have a skill mix estimated by SRI International in an independent analysis to be $6,210 more valuable than the skill mix of an energy peer group.

Bert Hill has seen firsthand the impact that these IAC students have on industry. As the Manager of Health, Safety & Environment for Volvo Group North America, he has witnessed six assessments completed by five different universities resulting in the identification of $465,000 in potential energy savings opportunities. He said the students bring technical know-how, enthusiasm, and creative ideas and are not afraid to think outside the box. He also pointed out that the waste management and water conservation recommendations that students make are an important compliment to standard energy assessments. This foray into water efficiency is part of AMO’s larger focus on the water-energy nexus.

The event closed with a few IAC alumni in the audience sharing their experiences with the program and how it has helped them in their careers. The IAC program recognizes students through accolades like the student research awards, outstanding engineering student awards, and distinguished alumni awards. Alumni feel a strong connection to the IAC program and also see it as a powerful recruiting resource for their own companies. To them, the program promises graduates with a specific skillset and level of dedication.

The IAC program is crucial to supporting manufacturers in energy efficiency and developing a strong, energy-savvy workforce. The recognition of the program on Capitol Hill was very encouraging and we look forward to continuing the success of the program for another 40 years.

To learn more about the IAC program, click here