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Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin

What I’m teaching:

Heat transfer; Senior Design

What I’m researching:

“My research is centered around the idea that we need more renewable energy on the electric grid, but the greatest renewable energy resources we have available are hard to control. The wind doesn’t blow exactly when we want it to, and the sun doesn’t shine exactly when we want it to. I study building energy (or HVAC) systems with some form of storage that can be controlled in order to better suit the electric grid. The end goal is to allow the grid to utilize more renewable electricity generation.”

What drew me to Lafayette:

I like the balance of teaching and research here. It’s a perfect environment for me to continue to investigate interesting problems while I pursue my passion for teaching.”

What students can expect from me:

I intentionally spent four years in industry before I got my Ph.D. Part of the reason I did that was that it helped me to bring subjects alive and also to get a first-hand look at what parts of industry students may find exciting. I’m bringing in not just any application or problems from a book, but examples from my own experience. That includes the ways in which engineering disciplines constantly interface with other disciplines and how those interactions affect the engineering challenge we are approaching.”

Amy Van Asselt

What I’m holding:

One of the first engineering internships I did solidified my love of heat transfer and energy. I worked in a department that designed ovens, and this structure is made up of parts from a gas oven. The train on top is a spark ignition module, which causes the flame to start. The tracks, the part I worked on, is a vent design on the oven door. The part is important because it keeps the oven door cool enough to touch. The part that allows the assembly to rotate is a convection fan from the back wall of an oven. This was a gift to me as I finished my internship, and it reminds me of how much I liked working on something very applied that is a part of people’s lives. Similar to my research now on energy and sustainability, I like to keep people at the center of my work.”

What’s not on my CV:

I completed my master’s degree when the engineering job market was very slow. I was living in California at the time and ended up landing a physically-intense warehouse job for an organic produce distributor. I worked there for a year, made some great friends, and gained insight into food-production sustainability issues.”


Categorized in: Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, New Faculty