For Ted Heindel, becoming leader of the Iowa NSF EPSCoR energy utilization platform is a role he’s seemingly been preparing for since his days as an undergraduate. “I had some really good thermal science professors as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison,” said Heindel, who is interim chair of the mechanical engineering department (until Oct. 2012) and Bergles Professor of Thermal Science at Iowa State University. “This fostered my interest in the thermal sciences and led me to graduate school at Purdue University, where my focus was in the thermal sciences, specifically heat transfer,” he said.
At Iowa State, Heindel’s passion for the thermal sciences is found the classes he teaches such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat/mass transfer. It’s also in his research, which focuses on mixing in gas-liquid and gas-solid systems, processes found in many energy production operations.
“I’m also leading an effort to enhance Iowa State’s efforts in energy education,” Heindel said. One result of this effort is a minor in energy systemsthat was recently approved by the ISU faculty senate and will be offered for the first time in the fall 2012. Indeed, Heindel has been a leader in engaging students in science and engineering. He has mentored eight Program for Women in Science and Engineering (PWSE) summer interns and 17 Freshmen Honors research participants.
Connecting Iowans to Energy Utilization Issues
Now, Heindel’s using all his experience to lead Iowa NSF EPSCoR’s various energy utilization projects. His colleagues will be instrumenting the Interlock House at Honey Creek State Park and a few schools in Iowa, and then will track changes in the energy consumption as a function of usage. “We will be able to show Iowans how to more effectively use the environment to help control energy costs,” he explained. The team is also studying how to get the community involved in energy conservation, and what messages help an individual change their habits to be more energy efficient. “I am really excited about the energy utilization platform because it focuses on activities in which all of us can identify,” Heindel said.
The Iowa NSF EPSCoR program is important to Iowa because it will help build the infrastructure to develop more sustainable energy options and educate the citizens of Iowa. “I think the energy utilization platform can really connect with Iowans because it addresses building energy and how to get regular people to change their habits about energy usage,” Heindel said. “Nearly 40 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. goes into buildings – from heating and cooling to lighting to all the electronic gadgets you plug into your outlet – it all adds up.”
Engineering Input in Energy and Sustainability
Heindel believes engineering has a strong future. “One reason for its strength is that energy and sustainability will be important issues far into the future, and engineers can provide significant input,” he says. “For example, engineers continue to look for ways to use energy more efficiently and to develop more cost-effective alternative forms of energy, and when a solution is found to one issue, other efficiencies and energy forms can be studied for improvement,” he said.
Iowa NSF ESPCoR Roles: Project Director, Iowa NSF EPSCoR; Energy Utilization Platform Leader
Bergles Professor of Thermal Science
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
Effective Jan. 2, 2013, Ted Heindel was appointed project director of Iowa NSF EPSCoR. Heindel remains as Energy Utilization Platform Leader.