Have you ever wondered how American small manufacturers stay competitive in today’s global economy? Maybe not, but since 1976 the US Department of Energy has been supporting teams of experts who each day develop the resources needed and provide engineering technical support to these businesses. These teams provide recommendations to help manufacturers operate at the highest level of energy efficiency and productivity. 

These experts are members of the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program that is administered through the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy. Led by engineering faculty, students at the selected IACs perform on-site assessments at small- and medium-sized manufacturing business partners, and have directly assisted more than 17,000 businesses, saving 6.1M metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 481 MBtu saved in energy consumption.

Recently AMO announced this year’s recipients of the third annual IAC Outstanding Student and Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes students and alumni who have made a significant impact through their work in energy efficiency and outstanding accomplishments in promoting the practices and principles of energy engineering. Nominations were submitted for students and alumni. Though recognized for different achievements, one characteristic all awardees share is an exceptional ability as engineers and having advanced energy efficiency in the often hard to engage small and medium-sized manufacturing community. 

Congratulations to this year’s recipients for their contribution to energy efficiency and sustainability. 


Chad Dunkel - Outstanding IAC Engineering Student Awardee

Chad has been with the IAC program since 2012 when he performed Boise State’s first IAC visit. Since joining the IAC team as a junior student in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, he has played all almost roles within industrial assessment teams several times over.  As a senior design project, Chad was part of team looking into the possible conversion of existing campus steam plant into co-generation system and also lead an independent study to quantify energy savings associated with switching from regular V-belt to cogged V belts with small motors. Chad is a student at the University of Idaho.


Cameron Lancaster - Distinguished Alumni Awardee (Early Career Category)

After graduating from Purdue University in 2014, Cameron joined Siemens Building Technologies Energy Services Group, which completes projects ranging from small service contracts ($30,000) to large complex facility improvement measures ($2,000,000).  As an Energy Engineer, he is responsible for conducting site visits, analyzing current facility situations, and developing facility improvement measures and energy conservation measures.  He has also successfully graduated from the Siemens Industry, Inc. Operations Development Program, and is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers and the US Green Building Council’s Indiana Chapter. 


Lizzie Grobbel - Distinguished Alumni Awardee (Early Career Category)

Lizzie currently serves as Director of Sustainability for Graham Partners, a private equity firm. In this role, she is actively works with Graham Partners’ portfolio of manufacturing and industrial companies to promote energy management. Already, she has facilitated efficiency projects that identified millions of dollars in potential annual cost savings; developed educational webinars on energy efficiency and energy management for 20+ portfolio company operations professionals; and engaged portfolio company facilities and operations teams in piloting eGuide – a DOE-sponsored energy management system software tool. Lizzie graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014.


Steve Mulqueen - Distinguished Alumni Awardee

Steve began his career in industrial energy efficiency at Cascade Energy, a leader in industrial energy efficiency located in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2011, Steve has worked as an energy engineer in the Strategic Energy Management (SEM) component of the Bonneville Power Administration’s Energy Smart Industrial (ESI) program, helping large industrial end-users reduce electrical energy use. Since its start in 2009, the ESI program has resulted in savings of more than 967 million kWh of electricity. Steve has been instrumental in the over 68 million kWh of savings achieved through SEM.  Steve was the project lead for ESI’s Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Integration Pilot. This pilot evaluated the impact on energy efficiency from demand response events and provided end-users with site-specific recommendations to reduce electrical demand costs.  Steve graduated from the University of Dayton in 2009.


Dr. Eric Woodroof - Distinguished Alumni Awardee

Dr. Eric Woodroof has helped over 400 organizations and governments save over $150 million in energy expenses. Dr. Woodroof served as president of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and has initiated many scholarship programs that attract young professionals into the field.  During the past five years, he has presented roughly 130 seminars/keynote speeches on five continents in an effort to advance the field and a better energy future for society.  Dr. Woodroof also created two certifications – Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM) and Performance Contracting and Funding (PCF) professional – and contributes heavily to the technical content of the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) program.  Dr. Woodroof graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1998.


Chandra Gopalakrishnan - Distinguished Alumni Awardee

As Vice President & Regional Director of Energy & Sustainability for Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Chandra delivers programs and services for corporate clients with large portfolios across the world. He was instrumental in establishing programs, tools and processes that deliver energy and waste reduction, managing utility bureau services and reporting performance across thousands of sites for clients such as HSBC. In 2015, those efforts resulted in a savings of over $5M in utility costs and also resulted in achieving zero waste in several sites.  Prior to JLL, he developed over $350 million in guaranteed savings energy performance contracts for K-12 school districts, universities, hospitals and government in the North East US. Chandra graduated from West Virginia University in 2005.

When implemented, the recommended actions of IAC assessments often result in energy and water savings, waste reduction, opportunities for smart manufacturing, and potential enhancements to cyber security and related information technologies, as well as sustainability and productivity improvements for manufacturers at the heart of the U.S. economy.

Additional details about the IAC program can be found here.