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WVU team utilizes Dept. of Energy funding to spur clean energy job education, access in rural WV communities

Students and faculty working at the WVU Industrial Assessment Center

A team of students and professors with the Industrial Assessment Center at West Virginia University (WVU-IAC) measures and assesses how a facility utilizes energy and resources.

A team at the Industrial Assessment Center at the Department of Industrial Management Systems Engineering in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources has received $450,000 as a part of the funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to BridgeValley Community and Technical College in Charleston. The funding, which totals $3 million over three years, will go toward the development of an industrial assessment center at BCTC.

Story by Kaley LaQuea
Photos supplied


The IAC at West Virginia University has been strengthening energy analysis and productivity in the Mountain State since 1992. Director Bhaskaran Gopalakrishnan will utilize this expertise to lead his team in developing a faculty mentorship program at Blue Ridge CTC, with the goal of expanding and enhancing manufacturing degree programs, career advancement training and certificate pathways for students. The project is part of a national investment to stimulate job growth and bolster rural and economically disadvantaged communities. In West Virginia, funding is targeted in areas impacted by the coal industry downturn, the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you are able to help businesses improve their bottom line, they’ll invest back into the economy and hire more people at good paying jobs, especially clean energy jobs,” said Gopalakrishnan, professor of industrial and management systems engineering.

West Virginia’s population growth has slowed in recent years, and Bureau of Business and Economic Research data projects it will continue to decrease through 2027. In efforts to combat these negative economic impacts, WVU IAC will work with Blue Ridge CTC to collaborate with regional employers, community and labor organizations toward manufacturing training efforts and clean sector job development.

“This is an important part of the land grant mission of WVU,” said Gopalakrishnan.  “Universities were created to enable education and growth of individuals in the state who might otherwise not get access to these types of information and knowledge.”

“This is a perfect example of expanding the IAC program to our communities, and promoting technology toward further cutting energy consumption and minimizing carbon emissions,” said Hailin Li, mechanical, materials and aerospace engineering professor. “I am very glad to have this opportunity to make a positive impact; to work with community colleges to expand their curriculum and apply the fundamental knowledge I’ve learned through research and industry.”

Assessment centers focus on data to improve energy efficiency, water use efficiency and waste reduction — providing students with hands-on experience using diagnostic equipment for energy analysis, and opportunities to interact and network with industry leaders on-site. In 2021, WVU’s IAC was recognized by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for its remarkable contributions to industrial energy efficiency.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135