Dr. Alfonso Ortega Explores Research Partnership with HP

Dr. Alfonso Ortega

During the week of July 27, Dr. Alfonso Ortega, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research and the James R. Birle Professor of Energy Technology, laid the foundation for an exciting research collaboration between Villanova’s College of Engineering and HP Labs, the exploratory and advanced research group for Hewlett-Packard.

Dr. Ortega made the visit to Palo Alto, CA, at the invitation of his longtime colleague Chandrakant Patel, an HP Fellow and the director of HP’s Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab. The goal of this laboratory is to transform the IT ecosystem by developing technologies that reduce energy usage, material consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. Ortega—an internationally recognized expert in the air cooling of electronic systems—and the HP researchers briefed each other about their work and explored opportunities for a partnership between Mr. Patel’s lab and Dr. Ortega’s Laboratory for Advanced Thermal and Fluid Systems.

Dr. Ortega’s expertise is of great interest to Mr. Patel’s interdisciplinary research group, which is seeking sustainable solutions to major engineering challenges associated with today’s sophisticated data centers: energy consumption and the dissipation of heat. According to Dr. Ortega, meeting these challenges requires a multifaceted approach that considers the control of computing resources, the control of power supplied to servers, the thermal management of the servers and the data center, and the reduction of the IT industry’s carbon footprint.

“This green movement is one of the fastest-growing trends in the IT industry,” Dr. Ortega said, “and my lab is exploring new work in this area. In particular, we are looking at the thermodynamic aspects of the design of computer systems, with an emphasis on sustainability.”

Having identified potential areas for collaboration, the HP researchers and Dr. Ortega will engage in writing proposals to agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. It is Dr. Ortega’s hope that the collaboration will involve Villanova faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students.