Villanova Mechanical Engineering Senior Wins Best Poster at ASME Conference

Kagan Richardson ’15 ME and Joseph Schaadt ’15 ME at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
Kagan Richardson ’15 ME and Joseph Schaadt ’15 ME at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition

Villanova University Mechanical Engineering senior Joseph Schaadt won the award for best poster in the Undergraduate Research and Design Expo at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE). Titled "Load Capacity and Thermal Efficiency Optimization of a Research Data Center Using Computational Modeling," Joseph’s research combines computational fluid dynamics analysis with factorial analysis to determine the optimal operating conditions for a data center to maximize energy efficiency. 

Funded by a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supplement to the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) in Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2), Joseph’s advisors include Adjunct Professor Kamran Fouladi, PhD, and Associate Professor Aaron P. Wemhoff, PhD, both in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Professor Joseph G. Pigeon, PhD, in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; and Thomas Wu of Future Facilities, Ltd. Drs. Fouladi and Wemhoff are members of the ES2 research team, which is committed to developing methodologies, tools and systems that will maximize energy efficiency for the operation of electronic systems, including data centers.

During the summer after his sophomore year, Joseph performed data center energy research with ES2 Director Alfonso Ortega, PhD, Villanova University Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Programs, James R. Birle Professor of Energy Technology, and Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Thermal and Fluid Systems. Joseph says, “Working with Dr. Ortega allowed me to gain experience in experimental research methods under an expert in electronics cooling and thermal management.” He adds, “I also wanted to gain experience in computational research methods, which led to an opportunity to work with Dr. Fouladi, an expert in computational fluid dynamics.”

Joseph’s first award for his research came last spring, when he was recognized for best undergraduate engineering poster at the Sigma Xi Villanova University Student Research Poster Symposium. When asked how it feels to bring home an award from an international competition, he says, “IMECE is the largest mechanical engineering conference in the world, so to win a best poster award is a tremendous honor.” Joseph credits his Villanova education for his success: “Villanova has provided me the opportunity to learn engineering fundamentals and to conduct state-of-the-art research. I have also had the chance to work closely on globally important engineering problems with professors who are experts in their fields, including Drs. Ortega, Fouladi and Wemhoff.”

Dr. Wemhoff notes how Joseph’s accomplishments speak to the opportunities that exist for undergraduates in the College of Engineering: “Villanova University has long been recognized for its commitment to undergraduate teaching. What some people aren’t aware of is the level of research being conducted here, and the number of undergraduates taking advantage of these opportunities. As Villanova transitions to classification as a research/doctoral university, the opportunities will only increase. We are incredibly proud of students like Joseph who pursue these research experiences and perform at the highest levels because of them.”