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Leverage Your Building Upgrade for Student Education

August 12, 2022


When you begin to invest in a facility program to upgrade infrastructure at your school or college, why not leverage those facility upgrades in the classroom?

As part of our mission to grow the pipeline from grade school to careers in emerging heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology, Trane offers hands-on educational opportunities for students. Customers can leverage their projects for real and rigorous student learning through the Trane Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Capstone Program.

Typically, a capstone project completes a college student’s four-year engineering degree program with a project that involves a real-life experience related to their field of study. While the Trane Capstone offers this opportunity, it’s also available to high school and community college students when administrators leverage it as part of a Trane upgrade project.

How a Trane Capstone Project Works
A Trane Capstone engages groups of three to five students, working together as a project team and acting as junior engineers on their project. The students utilize data from their own school building or from within their community in order to understand, analyze, and propose energy efficiency improvements. Each project includes data analytics of their building data and verbal presentations to communicate their findings and recommendations. Higher education participants in the Trane Capstone Program have included students from engineering, construction, sustainability, electronics, and robotics programs.

The projects all involve data analytics, financial analysis, and verbal presentations to develop communication skills. Any potential project on campus can be included as part of the capstone project, including energy and sustainability improvements, building occupant comfort, equipment replacements and upgrades, renewable generation and indoor air quality.

Trane’s energy efficiency capstone projects are proving highly desirable by school administrators and building facility operators because they offer the opportunity to reduce operating costs. And Trane’s offerings are especially popular when students get to choose among several projects, according to Chris Torline, Educational Programs Engineer for Trane.

“When I asked them, ‘why did you pick our project?’, they, say ‘because it was really exciting or because it saves energy.’ We are finding that the whole topic of energy and sustainability is extremely relevant to students.”

Torline reports that one school leader told him, “’Chris, they are going to learn more with your project than they would have with any other project.’ So, they included electronics and robotics students as well as the mechanical engineering students.”

Torline has worked with several institutions on Trane Capstone projects over the past several semesters. Trane Capstone projects can even be built upon over multiple semesters to analyze different phases of facility improvement projects, such as analyzing buildings before the project, having the students participate during the project, and then analyzing data after the project to evaluate its efficiency and effectiveness.

Here are a few examples of the multiple capstone projects Trane has supported:

University Chiller Plant - When engineering students conducted an energy and efficiency assessment for a Midwestern university’s chiller plant, they worked with Trane engineers to review electrical utility bills and analyze trend data. They also used an energy model of the current chilled water plant to analyze the impact of potential energy conservation measures (ECMs) that could be undertaken to optimize energy and operational efficiency. Based on the results, which included financial payback information, they recommended ECMs to improve the plant.

High School Thermal Storage Solution
Four university students analyzed data from a building in their local community – a feeder high school in their Midwestern community. The students were tasked with uncovering how to reduce high energy costs generated by the water-cooled chiller. Students conducted a power-use evaluation of the building, and also analyzed the detailed electric utility bills. They then recommended installation of a thermal storage unit, which stores ice for energy use when energy costs are highest. This solution would help reduce energy costs for the school. Students’ work included proposing a location for the thermal storage units, diagramming how to integrate the piping and analyzing how the system would be programmed and controlled.

Missouri Solar Plant – Three students assessed the pros, cons and environmental impacts of adding solar panels to two campus structures and solar batteries to a third facility at a Missouri university. They assessed how much the solutions would offset power consumption as well as carbon emissions and calculated the financial payback period for multiple options before ultimately recommending a solar system installation.

Learn more about Trane STEM education programs that can help you leverage your energy upgrades to educate your students. 

Kasey Boxleitner

About the author
Chris Torline - Intelligent Services/Controls Business Development Engineer

Chris is passionate about inspiring others to create an amazing experience of life for themselves! Chris most enjoys working with leaders and future leaders, including professionals, business owners, professional athletes, students, and anyone who desires to create a new existence of life for themselves. He supports them to create anything they want through leveraging emotional and mental techniques and applying them consistently while taking action towards their vision.

Chris has spent over ten years studying how the mind works, and why we do what we do. Chris is a certified trainer with Inner Matrix Systems where Chris supports others helping them master their inner game to produce exceptional results. Chris brings this training into every aspect of life. Chris is passionate about coaching, and has been a high school, youth, and competitive lacrosse coach for over 20 years.

At Trane, Chris is passionate about inspiring others through his work as an Educational Programs Engineer. He enjoys developing and helping administer the range of Trane’s educational programs, from Trane’s introductory energy programs in grade school through post-secondary college and university offerings. Chris is especially passionate about inspiring students to create the world they want to live in, he does this through developing data analytics certification curriculum and leading university students including senior engineering capstone projects.

Chris works to implement Trane’s Virtual Living Learning Labs (VL3TM) with schools and universities because of the amazing opportunity it presents to expose students to data analytics, energy conservation, and sustainability while developing skills they utilize to create the experience of life the want to achieve.