Did You Know?: Center for Technology Development

March 6, 2014  

Center for Technology Development

Terance Harper, left, a graduate student in mechanical engineering technology, and Brian Loss, clinical assistant professor of building construction management, show off the solar panels on Knoy Hall that generate a portion of the building's electricity. Knoy Hall is the first building on Purdue's academic campus to have this capability, and the Center for Technology Development funded the project. Solar energy research is part of Harper's master's thesis, and Loss has written a paper about the electrical codes for such systems and the ways they can be interpreted.  (Photo provided)
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The Center for Technology Development connects Purdue researchers with industrial partners to produce technology that addresses real-world, 21st-century problems.

Housed in the College of Technology, the center formed in January 2012. Its mission is to advance technology development through innovation and applied research and engineering, says Haiyan "Henry" Zhang, the center's director. 

"The center provides a close connection between discovery and cost-effective, product-driven industry needs," says Zhang, professor of mechanical engineering technology.

"As manufacturers in the 21st century migrate to 'smart' products -- or products that involve embedded technology, for example -- manufacturers continue to look for lower-cost, efficient ways to create and distribute them. The Center for Technology Development aims to help fill that need."

Sixteen faculty members from several departments in the colleges of Technology and Engineering are affiliated with the center, and its research involves dozens of Purdue's undergraduate and graduate students.

The center's industrial partners are four companies involved in transportation -- American Axel Manufacturing, Eaton Corp., John Deere and Faurecia. Those partners help fund the center's research, from which they in turn benefit.

The center's two ongoing projects involve optimizing overseas shipping processes and industrial energy management.

The shipping project, ongoing since 2012, has resulted in software that allows companies to determine the cheapest and most efficient way to ship irregularly shaped items overseas. Determining shipping and storage optimization without the software takes at least three weeks, Zhang says, but the software can generate options that satisfy all the constraints, regulations and custom requirements, and it can make such determinations in minutes.

As with all the center's projects, faculty and students have collaborated on the shipping project's research and development. In this case, Zhang and a doctoral student primarily developed the software. More than 40 undergraduates are involved in creating pallet-loading designs used in the research, which will continue through July.

Additionally, the center's ongoing project to address industrial energy management involves two faculty members and a master's student in the College of Technology.

That project involves creating a "microgrid" that would manage energy from multiple sources and distribute it to industrial partners to increase energy efficiency, reliability, security and quality. 

Creating the microgrid framework, Zhang says, is expected to meet the needs of the center's industrial partners by reducing their energy consumption and saving money on manufacturing processes.

The microgrid project's research will continue through this July.

More information about the Center for Technology Development is at https://tech.purdue.edu/center-for-technology-development.

Writer: Amanda Hamon Kunz, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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