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Center for Global Public Safety 2nd Annual Industry Stakeholders’ Forum

March 27, 2019

The second annual Industry Stakeholders’ Forum took place on Wednesday, March 27, 2019.  Hosted by WPI’s Center for Global Public Safety (CGPS), the full day event was opened by WPI President Laurie Leshin and Dean of Engineering, John McNeill.  This year’s theme was Energy Initiatives & Their Impact on Public Safety.  The crowd included industry leaders from the fields of Fire Protection, Water Security, Building Technologies and Energy Initiatives as well as leading academics from WPI and other local institutions.

Matthew Beaton, MA Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, provided the keynote address.  He spoke of the critical nature of energy resilience in relation to public safety and gave firsthand accounts of his involvement with the Merrimack Valley explosions in September, 2018.  He also highlighted the greenhouse gas reduction goals for the state of Massachusetts and the steps being taken to achieve these. 

Other special guests participated in a panel discussion moderated by Mike Ahern, WPI Director of Power Systems, addressing the topic of Energy Technologies and their Opportunities and Challenges.  These included:

  • John Khalil, Assoc. Dir. of Research at United Technologies Research Center
  • Tom O’Rourke, Project Manager Gas Technical Sales at Eversource
  • Mark Macaulay, VP of Advanced CHP Applications at ZHP Systems
  • Justin Woodard, Principal Engineer at National Grid
  • Galen Nelson, Senior Director of the Innovation and Industry Support (IIS) Division at Mass CEC
  • Pravin Gandhi, Corporate Fellow, Retail & Industry R&D at UL
  • Leo Subbarao, Lead Fire Protection Engineer at FDNY​

Attendees travelled from throughout the U.S. and the New England region to participate in the event.  Companies represented include JENSEN HUGHES, Johnson Controls, Underwriters Laboratories, FM Global, Eversource, National Grid, NEC Energy Storage, ZHP Systems, Tighe & Bond, Schneider Electric, Gensler, Shawmut, United Technologies Research Center, NPK Building Corp., Forensic Laboratory Travelers, and Abundance Fire & Safety Technology Services.  Participants also came from local agencies, professional societies and academic institutions such as Worcester Fire Department, New York City Fire Department, National Fire Protection Association, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Mass CEC, Mass DEP, UMASS Lowell, UMASS Amherst, Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, and 350.org Central Mass.

After lunch, there was a presentation on the Solar Decathlon competition by Tahar El Korchi, WPI Professor & Dept Head of Civil & Environmental Engineering.  He described the prestigious international competition between universities to design, build, and operate a net zero energy dwelling and how for the second time, WPI has ben selected as a finalist.  As a result, Team OCULUS, one of 20 teams representing 40 universities from around the world will gather in Morocco in September for the 2019 Solar Decathlon AFRICA. 

The afternoon session concluded with break-out discussions related to energy, water security and fire protection.  During the discussion, each group addressed public safety concerns in each area especially those related to pressing needs, new technologies and opportunities for further research, development and collaboration.

The information gathered at the event will serve as a guide for research initiatives and collaborations in the coming year.

 

Round Table Discussions

-    Some of the pressing needs identified at the Industry Forum:
·         Improved Battery Systems & Energy Harvesting
·         Thermal Runaway Risks in Battery Storage
·         Hydrogen Transportation Safety
·         Cyber Security for Distributed Energy Systems
·         Water Infrastructure & Security During Extreme Events