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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Students Save Local Manufacturers Millions Through High-Impact Assessments

Future engineers are better prepared to enter the workforce after participating in SDSU’s Industrial Assessment Center.
By Kellie Woodhouse and Christopher Leap

This article and video are part of the Mentorship in Action series, which highlights faculty and programs that provide students high-impact experiences and meaningful mentorship.

Over the past 30 years, the San Diego State University Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) has offered high-impact advanced manufacturing research and training to more than 300 student engineers and helped Southern California manufacturers save $35 million.

The IAC connects faculty researchers and students from the College of Engineering with local companies that are looking to save money by improving energy efficiency. Faculty experts, including engineers Asfaw Bayene and Joaquin Camacho, train students in field research, assessment tools and evaluation methods.

Students are paid to participate in the program, which requires challenging work, the ability to learn on the go and technical know-how.

The IAC team visits local small and mid-sized manufacturers, assesses their production process and offers a free assessment with recommendations on improving energy efficiency and reducing costs.

“This program is at the front line between industry and the university,” Camacho said. “It helps California companies save energy, reduce costs and learn about new technologies, and it allows SDSU to train the next generation of engineers using proven, high-impact field practices.”

Each year, the team makes assessments for about 17 manufacturers. Students present the assessments orally and then submit a written report. In the past two years, roughly 40% of the IACs suggestions have been implemented by companies.

The IAC is supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), including a $2 million, five-year grant  up for renewal in 2022.