Sustainability in Action at NYU Tandon

A look back at NYU Tandon's commitment to a greener society

Creators of the "Food Computer," a Prototyping Fund project that grows produce in a computer-controlled environment.

At the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, a day is not sufficient to pay homage to our home planet. Faculty, students, and alumni are busy all year long creating innovative solutions that promote a more sustainable future. Here are few highlights:

Cleaner Energy, Greener World

Faculty at NYU Tandon are reimagining energy production through clean technology, such as the HIGH Efficiency Shielded Toroidal (HIGHEST) Transformer, developed by Associate Professor Francisco de Leon’s and alum Saeed Jazebi. With the Environmental Protection Agency estimating that inefficient transformers lose approximately 60 to 80 billion kilowatt hours per year, resulting in annual costs to consumers of $4 billion, the transformer’s continuous steel strip wrapped in coils (which does not require oiling) and other design features ensure that it will significantly reduce energy loss, cost, and environmental impact.

In the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department, Assistant Professor Ryan Hartman was awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CAREER Award, worth $501,000 over five years, to research the ability to control the stability and separation of carbon-hydrogen bonds in methane, a process that would have significant impact on green energy and could improve large-scale manufacturing of commodities, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Sustainability Central to Tandon Faculty, Students, and Campus

With sustainable garment production on the minds of many within the fashion industry, the H&M Foundation recently awarded five innovative research projects with the 2017 Global Change Award, including Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Miguel Modestino’s venture into a sustainable, environmentally-friendly process for creating nylon without the use of carbon-emitting oil. The €250,000 ($267,000) award will fund Modestino and his research team, including NYU Tandon doctoral students Adlai Katzenberg and Daniela Blanco, as they experiment with solar energy, water, and carbon dioxide to create a nylon fabric that binds greenhouse gases to itself, thereby reducing carbon emissions into the environment. The H&M Foundation selected Modestino’s solar textiles project out of 3,000 applications from 130 countries.

At the Fall 2016 Prototyping Fund Showcase, student teams shared their innovative designs, including three projects in sustainable technology. The Food Computer, designed by graduate students Jonas Günther, Omar Gowayed, and Selim Senocak, is a computer-controlled and self-enclosed environment that provides access to produce in urban spaces. Undergraduates Dakota Marin and Roshaun Morris’s Filament Maker transforms recycled plastic into 3D printer filament. The NYU FREEdge, developed out of an NYU Design for America project, minimizes food waste on Tandon’s campus, offering students access to free food in the smart community refrigerator.

The transformation of the 370 Jay Street building into NYU Tandon’s new hub for engineering, science, technology and digital arts is currently underway and will feature a variety of clean energy and sustainable designs, such as the high-efficiency/low-waste Microturbine which will generate electricity and recapture emitted heat to supplement the HVAC system, as well as the over 1,000 high efficiency windows with solar shading to reduce air conditioner usage, an energy efficient lighting system, as well as a green roof.

Clean Tech Initiatives and Smart Cities

NSF CAREER Awards were also granted to Assistant Professors Joseph Y.J. Chow and Constantine Kontokosta of Civil and Urban Engineering for their research into data-driven approaches to urban transportation systems and energy dynamics.

2016 was a banner year for the Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (ACRE), New York City’s first cleantech incubator program at the Urban Future Lab (UFL) at NYU Tandon, which supports early-stage business ventures in green energy and technology startup. The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) awarded ACRE with the prestigious Startup Supporter of the Year Award in October 2016, recognizing ACRE and UFL as NYC’s hub for smart cities, clean energy, and smart grid technology. In September, the UFL Competition admitted two cleantech startups, Fentrend and TagUp, to its ACRE incubator, awarding each company $25,000 and mentorship with industry partners and sponsors. In December, ACRE received a $100,000 grant from Wells Fargo to support startups aiming to create a greener, smarter, and more connected world.

Smart Cities Tech, one of the projects of NYU Tandon’s new Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program, which promotes long-term, multidisciplinary student research, focuses on how technology can build smarter, cleaner transportation within cities. The project seeks to solve urgent issues of urban living, such as public transportation, air pollution, water quality, and energy consumption.

Celebrate a Car-Free Earth Day with NYU Tandon

Sustainable Solutions, comprised of NYU Tandon students, collaborated with Car Free Day NYC, NYC Weekend Walks, and the Montague Street Business Improvement District (BID) to create a community-wide Earth Day event in Brooklyn Heights this Saturday, April 22, 2017. Tandon senior Kevin Barrow organized the event alongside Tandon students and faculty, including Professor Richard Wener of the Department of Technology, Culture and Society, government officials, and members of the Brooklyn community to bring together residents for a car-free day filled with entertainment, music, and activities along Montague Street. “We want to show Brooklyn and New York City that pedestrian-friendly design makes for a much better living space than an auto-centric design,” Barrow said, adding that Sustainable Solutions hopes the event’s success inspires more car-free days in cities. To learn more about this Saturday's activities, visit Montague Street BID.


Camila Ryder
Graduate School of Arts and Science
Master of Arts in English Literature, Class of 2018