Monday, December 31, 2018

Daikin announces first U.S. supermarket retrofit of R-22 to Creard R-407H refrigerant

Daikin America has partnered with TOPS Friendly Markets to complete the first refrigeration conversion of a U.S. supermarket from R-22 to Creard R-407H refrigerant. At the TOPS store in Alden, NY, 1200 pounds of Creard R-407H has been used to provide more than 25 cooling tons in medium-temperature refrigerated cases and displays

Daikin's new Creard R-407H refrigerant is a low global-warming-potential (GWP) blend designed for new refrigeration systems and as a replacement for R-22, R-404A and R-507 in existing systems. Creard R-407H has a GWP of 1380, one of the lowest GWP options for refrigeration systems, providing a combination of performance while being economical relative to the products it is replacing. This comes in response to regulations to phase out ozone-depleting substances resulting from the Montreal Protocol.

Daikin engineers worked closely with TOPS to address key requirements:
  • A GWP of less than 1500 to position TOPS with a sustainable solution for the useful life of the equipment in the event of any future climate related regulatory policies.
  • Equivalent or better energy efficiency and refrigeration capacity across the entire operating range.
  • A close match in temperature, pressure, and volumetric flow rate properties to R-22, to use the same expansion devices, distribution system, and piping.
  • Traditional chemistry, with proven material compatibility with legacy R-22 equipment.
  • Cost-effectiveness in long-term operation.
After the conversion from R-22 to Creard R-407H, the system was monitored for three months. Throughout the test, data was collected on operating pressures, temperatures, and energy consumption of the system. The power consumption during the test months when compared to R-22 was 2 percent higher after the first fill and system shakedown and then improved to 0.5 percent lower after the controller was tuned. The cooling capacity remained the same between R-22 and R-407H.

Tim Bowen, TOPS Markets maintenance manager, states, "Creard R-407H is a great help to TOPS Markets' bottom line due to its energy efficiency, cost, and requiring minimal changes to our equipment. Since Creard R-407H has demonstrated to be a low-GWP match with R-22, this really becomes a great solution for TOPS Markets as we move forward with our conversion program this year."

Daikin America provides refrigerant gases, fluoroplastic and fluoroelastomer polymers, and coating materials designed to support a diverse set of industries. It is a subsidiary of Daikin Industries of Osaka, Japan, a manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment and fluorochemical products.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sarah Wilson elected board chair at McMillen Jacobs

The McMillen Jacobs Associates board of directors has elected Sarah Wilson as board chair. Wilson is a vice president at McMillen Jacobs, where she has worked in tunnel design and construction management for more than 19 years, and she has spent the past five years in board service for the firm.
According to a recent study by Heidrick & Struggles, the appointment of women to board-of-director positions is hitting an all-time high in 2018. But a recent ENR study found that to be strategic on current and emerging issues, engineering and construction boards must better embrace a diversity of experience and perspectives. When asked to comment on her appointment, Wilson said, “I’m proud that McMillen Jacobs is on the cutting edge of the industry with a woman board chair. My 8-year-old daughter is so aware of girls and women as powerful forces in the world, and I hope to set a good example for my 1-year-old son. We also have two outside directors that enrich our collective experience on a very active board. I see the board chair’s responsibility as driving communication between the board and company management, and I’m lucky to be working with some extremely talented people.”

Wilson’s leadership experience and technical expertise stem from final design roles on transit, dam and water conveyance facilities, and construction management experience on numerous underground contracts in both soft ground and rock. Wilson received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia and was featured on the school’s “40 under 40” list in 2015.  She earned her M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She has authored numerous professional papers and articles on geotechnical and construction management topics and is a past president of the American Rock Mechanics Association. She is a CMAA certified construction manager and a registered professional civil engineer in California.
Based in Seattle, Washington, McMillen Jacobs Associates is an employee-owned environmental, engineering, and construction company providing technical services to the heavy civil, underground, and water resources markets. The firm has offices around the country and in Canada, Australia, and New England. For more information, visit

Monday, December 17, 2018

Three ways to boost STEM education to prepare the workforce of the future

By Brad Anderson
Editor-in-chief of ReadWrite

It’s obvious: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are integral parts of everyone’s life. Since 2009, STEM has accounted for more than 
800,000 new jobs in the United States, more than double the number of new jobs in non-STEM sectors.
That growth should be exciting, especially considering the boom of innovation that’s sure to follow. However, for companies that operate in STEM fields, the unprecedented growth is a little staggering. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, nearly 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled by the end of this year.
Traditionally, a shortage of employees in a certain field most likely indicates a general lack of interest in that field, but that isn’t the case this time. The shortage is the result of the demand for STEM jobs growing at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs for about a decade, according to the SSEC.
The scope of STEM is so broad that there’s bound to be a related career path, no matter what students are interested in. Developing a workforce of more STEM-qualified individuals is a matter of introducing people to the possibilities and providing opportunities for training.
New Ways to Teach STEM
In the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, conducted in 2015, U.S. students ranked 38th and 24th out of 71 countries in math and science, respectively. The National Math & Science Initiative reports that only 36 percent of U.S. high school graduates are ready to take college-level STEM courses.
Knowing that STEM will soon dominate major aspects of virtually every industry, many stakeholders are aiding in efforts to focus on STEM education and encourage students to get excited about developing these skills. Here are just a few key things being done to boost STEM education to ensure that tomorrow’s workers will have the skills they need.
1. Programs are taking learning outside the classroom.
While schools at all levels are making their STEM curricula more robust, there are also learning opportunities happening outside the classroom that are aiding in skill development, including after-school programs, summer camps, and tutoring. And the demand for STEM jobs nationwide is increasing interest in local programs to address the need.
A STEM growth report by Varsity Tutors, which provides concierge-level STEM tutoring and support, shows that STEM tutoring has boomed in the Midwest, especially in cities like St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati. The organization credits this increase in STEM learning to the number of companies offering flexible working conditions that allow employees to work remotely, which means Midwesterners can refine their skill sets to be competitive for these jobs wherever they’re located.
2. Business leaders and educators are building bridges. 
Students aren’t the only ones with STEM skills learning on their minds. The educational institutions responsible for teaching them and the companies that will soon need to hire them are also expanding their reach by partnering. The Business-Higher Education Forum was created specifically for building such bridges, and in the face of the STEM skills shortage, those bridges are an even more vital resource.
Through BHEF, universities that offer undergraduate STEM programs can share their curricula with the local business community. Businesses can offer feedback and potentially chip in to expand the programs. For instance, Northrup Grumman Corporation and the University of Maryland, College Park joined forces to establish the first undergraduate residential honors program in cybersecurity in an effort to better meet the demand for cybersecurity professionals in the state.
3. Resources help parents and teachers make STEM relatable to their kids.
While businesses, universities, and community organizations work to connect STEM students with their futures, there are plenty of resources available for parents and teachers to make STEM more relatable and appealing to upcoming generations. Younger children may not fully realize the importance of STEM, but they can enjoy it when it’s fun.
Through informal educational activities, they can also prepare themselves to pursue an education that focuses on the STEM skills they’ll likely need. Programs such as Engineering for Kids and STEM Minds offer a wide range of resources for parents and educators to make STEM learning exciting for children. These and other programs are designed to empower young minds by connecting the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math to fun projects and team exercises.
It’s worrisome that current figures predict a potentially devastating shortage of STEM-related innovators in the U.S. economy very soon. However, it’s encouraging to see schools, companies, organizations, and parents working together to help students gain interest and knowledge in STEM fields.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Engineering capstone project saves MSU researchers time and money

Countless hours spent hunched over petri dishes, using needles to pluck tiny samples from bacteria colonies and place them in test tubes, are not the most exciting experiences for researchers in Seth Walk's lab at Montana State University. Walk, who studies the complex microbial communities in the human gut, had considered paying $70,000 for a robot to perform the time-intensive routine. But then he learned that MSU engineering students could make one for him.
His satisfaction with the MSU-made device was evident as he took a close look during the biannual Design Fair recently, when roughly 30 teams of engineering students displayed their senior capstone projects in the Strand Union Building ballroom. "They did a great job," said Walk, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in MSU's College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science.
The desk-sized research apparatus came to life with a few computer commands, its needle sliding into place above a petri dish. An optical sensor stood ready to scan the petri dish's contents, detecting dots that represented distinct bacteria colonies ready to be sampled. "With this, we'll grow the bacteria and then let the machine do the work, which frees up time to focus on our research," Walk said, noting that the device also sterilizes the needle in between each sampling.
Over the course of two semesters, the four-person capstone team — likely the first-ever all-female team in mechanical engineering — took Walk's request and created a product that needs only some software tweaks to be fully operational. "The students came up with the entire design," says team adviser Ron June, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
"It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it," recalls team member Tayler Fortner, a mechanical engineering major from Winnett, MT. Along with teammates Katelyn Kalberer and Anna Teintze, Fortner focused on designing the complex mechanical system that precisely moves the needle to sample the bacteria. "It was a very involved project," Fortner said. "It was an application of everything we've been doing in school."
"There was a big learning curve," said fourth team member Sandra Zmeu, who focused on the electrical and computer parts of the machine. To program the code that guides the machine's motions and controls the optical sensor, she had to learn two computer languages, she says. "It was a real learning experience," says Zmeu, who is heading to a job at Boeing in Seattle following graduation.
Mechanical engineering technology major Teintze, from Bozeman, MT, said she enjoyed the collaboration on the project. "Working with an enthusiastic team was really cool," she remarks. Kalberer agreed: "An important part of being an engineer is being able to work with other engineers," she says.
All seniors in MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering complete capstone projects as a requirement for earning their degrees. Working in teams and advised by MSU faculty — and sometimes sponsors from private industry — the students find solutions to engineering problems. Other projects at the Design Fair included solar-powered car components, a snowplow radar system, and self-activated ergonomic seating. "Several faculty members have had research equipment built by capstone teams," June says. "The teams are a major contributor to our research at MSU."
According to capstone coordinator David Miller, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, there is always a need for capstone sponsors. That presents an opportunity for MSU faculty who need any manner of customized equipment. He states, "The capstone projects solve real problems while providing an opportunity for students to learn."