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Alabama’s Engineering Department receives award

Brett Saunders

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The Alabama Industrial Assessment Center at the University of Alabama was awarded the Center of Excellence award this year through accomplishments by this program. The Center of Excellence award has been around for about 10 years, and each year an assessment center is chosen for the award.

Professors Bob Taylor, Gary Moynihan and Keith Woodbury started the Industrial Assessment Center at the the University. According to Woodbury, who is the director of the AIAC and a professor at the College of Engineering, the professors have two primary goals.

“The main activity we do is to go out to manufacturing plants working with students to assess their energy use and do analysis reports and see how they can use less energy for less money, and also give students an opportunity to get in the field experience for future jobs,” Woodbury said. “And it is a significant honor to be recognized nationally for this award.”

AIAC is one of 26 assessment centers across the country. Other universities with assessment centers include Michigan, Georgia Tech, Florida and Mississippi State. Alabama’s assessment center has been running since fall of 2006 and is now in its renewal year for funding, according to Moynihan, assistant director of the AIAC.

“It was very gratifying to help Alabama’s factories and to also receive this award,” Moynihan said.

The AIAC employs the students who work in the program. Each year 12 to 15 students are chosen to be a part of the program, two or three are usually graduate students and the rest are undergraduate students. Students who do get accepted into the program agree to work at least two semesters.

“This award felt like a great achievement and it gave us a lot of pride,” said Trey Barringer, a graduate student in mechanical engineering. “One of the best parts about this program is finishing up a report, getting it turned in and having a web conference with the factory members and telling them how we can help, it is a good feeling.”

During Barringer’s time with the program he has gone to eight different plants, and has learned time management and how to work with other members of a team.

According to iac.ua.edu, the program has been able to give their companies recommendations that have saved them 5 percent to 20 percent in energy savings and the companies have also been recognized for nationally for their energy saving. An AIAC client WR Grace was recognized in Market Watch for their energy reduction.

For more information about The Alabama Industrial Assessment Center visit iac.ua.edu.

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Alabama’s Engineering Department receives award