Engineering professor awarded prestigious NSF CAREER grant

May 5, 2011 | Engineering and Science, Research and Development

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Dr. Leland Weiss, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, a five-year, $400,000 CAREER grant to support his research to capture and use solar thermal energy using small-scale devices.
Weiss, who is also a researcher in Louisiana Tech’s Institute for Micromanufacturing, is the fifth faculty member from Tech’s College of Engineering and Science to receive this highly prestigious recognition.  CAREER grants are awarded by NSF as a means of supporting the career development of promising young professors.
“One only has to open the hood of an automobile to realize that a considerable amount of the energy generated by the fuel is lost as heat,” said Dr. Ramu Ramachandran, associate dean for research in Louisiana Tech’s College of Engineering and Science.  “By harvesting energy lost in this manner and by putting it to good use, the percentage of energy in the fuel that is actually put to good use can be increased dramatically.”
The NSF CAREER grant will provide Weiss with the funds needed to continue and expand the scope of his research involving energy harvesting.  A first for this scale of application and thermal energy source, Weiss hopes to greatly increase energy efficiency and sustainability through ambient thermal energy harvesting.
It is expected that advanced fabrication techniques will result in novel devices for energy harvesting, and contribute to progress in areas where little prior work has been done. 
Weiss currently teaches courses in combustion engines and heat transfer at Louisiana Tech.  He plans to develop a new undergraduate energy course to further the subject’s outreach and impact.  This outreach significantly impacts energy education on multiple levels and encourages student involvement in advanced energy research.
Weiss received a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. from Washington State University.
Written by Catherine Fraser –