Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are developing metrics for building enclosure performance. Using precise performance information, they will be able to measure before construction whether a building will have high or low energy efficiency. Currently, it is difficult to evaluate the energy efficiency of a building prior to its construction

In the Community College Internship (CCI) program, mechanical engineering student Allison Warren contributed to this research. Alongside her mentor, Mahabir Bhandari, Ph.D., and her adviser, Simon Pallin, Ph.D., Warren collected data and information. She analyzed variations in installation quality and impact of energy performance, and she helped develop a metric for evaluating building efficiency.

“The research of energy efficiency is a never-ending field. There will always be ways to improve our commercial and residential buildings in terms of energy loss or efficiency,” Warren said. “It is important with our growing population to do what we can to preserve as much energy as possible, even if it is just a small change in the way we install a window or door.”

ORNL Undergraduate Research Profile: Allison Warren

In the Community College Internship program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, mechanical engineering student Allison Warren contributed to the development of a metric to evaluate the energy performance of buildings prior to their construction.

Warren’s typical day involved reading, researching and programming in the software MATLAB. By regularly attending seminars within the Building Envelope & Urban Systems Research Group, she gained a better understanding of the large-scale impact of her project and formed new research approaches. Further, she became aware of the collaboration required to conduct impactful research.

“My advice to others would be to get to know as many people as you can, whether they are other mentors, researchers in other divisions or peers in other programs. I have realized everyone has something to offer regardless of their position or amount of experience,” Warren said.

After participating in the CCI program, Warren returned to Pellissippi State Community College to complete her associate degree in mechanical engineering. Next, she plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in aerospace engineering.

Warren considers the CCI program as the starting point for a successful career.

“I cannot think of a better place to begin my professional experiences. This program was very helpful in providing tools and everything you need to gain as much from the experience as possible,” Warren said. “I have gained insight not only into real-world engineering, but also into the process that engineers go through, including project approval, publication and presentation. Overall, this opportunity has given me hope to pursue my future goals.”

The CCI program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) and is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), managed by ORAU.