Bin Wu has been responding to real-world problems related to industrial systems design for twenty years. “When we talk about industrial system design,” he explains, “we are talking about how to put facilities, people, and information systems together so that this system can function for whatever purpose it was designed to serve,” whether to manufacture or to supply. Traditionally, says Wu, when designing an industrial system our main consideration was always productivity – how to produce or manufacture things more efficiently. Three years ago, however, the MU Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering received a wake-up call that changed the direction of his work.
In this segment, faculty members talk about how their research and creative activity contribute to better teaching, as well as the relationship between these two aspects of their work. Frequently, the two endeavors intersect, profitting both. Carmen Chicone remarks, “If you are actively involved in your subject, you’re bound to be a much better teacher.”
As to whether energy-efficient measures are more costly, Wu remarks that the IAC tries to identify opportunities that are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement so that “the recommendations normally have a payback period of one year. There are so many things that are not costly. Lighting is one example. It doesn’t cost much to replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient ones, but the savings are almost immediate because the payback period is only about one year. So after this initial investment it’s all pure savings.” While energy-efficient measures are easy to set up, “in some cases, it does involve a more substantial amount of initial investment.” Even in those cases, Wu says, his group still tries to identify opportunities with a payback period of less than three years.
To request an energy audit through the Missouri Industrial Assessment Center , visit the center’s website for details or contact Bin Wu directly. Because the number of audits the IAC can do per year is limited, companies are encouraged to apply early.
Officially opened on September 1, 2006, the Missouri Industrial Assessment Center’s purpose “is to be the center in the state to provide services and resources to promote energy efficiency, particularly industrial energy efficiency.” The IAC carries out activities in the areas of research, education, and outreach. Since its establishment, the IAC has been busy conducting energy audits and workshops for manufacturing organizations throughout the state. Because the IAC provides practical experience for students, helps manufacturers improve energy efficiency, and develops best practices in industry, Wu calls it a “win, win, win situation.”
Following years principally involved in research, Wu now spends more time working with both students and the public on energy efficiency and the environment. As he puts it, “I feel very strongly that every one of us needs to do something and behave in responsible ways, individually or collectively, [to] do something about it.” As an educator, Wu gets the message out to his students, who he says are the future: , “It’s really a very fulfilling thing to do. I have been a professor for all of my professional life—doing research, writing books and other publications, and teaching. I can honestly say that what I’m doing now regarding energy efficiency is absolutely the most fulfilling.”
Wu says it is important to raise awareness on energy efficiency in an academic setting. “If I have to scream, I will scream,” he says so earnestly. Wu provides an array of helpful examples on how to converse energy, such as replacing one light bulb: “All we need to do is to change our habits, leave our way of living a little bit. In the end, it is quite significant. There are so many things we can individually do that will collectively have an impact on our environment and on the next generation… and I just hope we all begin to take this with a sense of urgency.”
Bin Wu, Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, has been researching, teaching, and consulting within the field of industrial engineering for twenty years. “When we talk about industrial system design,” he explains, “we are talking about how to put facilities, people, and information systems together so that this system can function for whatever purpose it is designed to fulfill – for example, to manufacture or to supply. Traditionally, when we designed a system, the main efficiency considerations were related to productivity.” About three years ago, however, Wu received a wake-up call: his son’s birth created a sense of urgency to address environmental issues, and specifically energy efficiency. He realized then that when designing and improving systems, particularly industrial systems, “energy has got to be a very important consideration, if not the most important consideration.”