Illinois State Technology Professor Jin Jo and graduate student Peter Tozzi ’15 are part of the Summer 2016 Visiting Faculty Program through the U.S. Department of Energy. Jo, who is also the associate director of the Center for Renewable Energy, and Tozzi were both accepted to the program and were placed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
This program gives faculty and graduate students the chance to further their research and work directly with employees at their placement facility. Jo and Tozzi chose to work on their research in energy optimization on college and university campuses.
While teaming with the National Renewable Energy Lab Engineering and Modeling sector, Jo and Tozzi learned about the lab’s new energy optimization platform, Renewable Energy Planning and Optimization (REopt). REopt has significantly aided their research this summer to try and determine the most cost-optimal solar photovoltaic (PV) system that can be installed at Illinois State University. This will help them in the future as they continue their solar research and help them achieve their goal of a solar PV installation at Illinois State University.
Jo and Tozzi hope to expand this opportunity to colleges and universities within the state of Illinois that want to implement more renewable energy technology. As part of this initiative, Jo and Tozzi have started an “Illinois Optimization Network,” which will allow educational institutions in Illinois to collaborate with one another and find different ways to pursue renewable energy on their respective campuses. This initiative is viewed as a stepping stone to further sustainable programs in the state.
As he looks forward to completing his master’s in project management in May 2017, Tozzi feels his summer internship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has given him the opportunity to apply the project management, renewable energy, and sustainability knowledge and skills he acquired at Illinois State University. The NREL’s team of project leaders and group managers have helped him further refine his goals and future career paths in renewable energy and project management.