SEI Summer Faculty Fellows Presented Research Work with Takeaways to Grow and Nurture Collaborations

The 2023 Energy Faculty Fellows with the Georgia Tech Hosts

The 2023 Energy Faculty Fellows with their Georgia Tech Hosts

This summer, the Strategic Energy Institute’s Energy Faculty Fellow program (EFF) brought three faculty and two undergraduate students to the Georgia Tech campus. The 10-week program has been designed for Georgia Tech faculty to host a faculty member from a primarily undergraduate or minority serving Institution to engage with energy leaders, build networks, and pursue research collaborations in the energy space. Ongoing goals are to continue research collaborations well beyond this summer, with faculty and students carrying research efforts to their home institutions and into the new academic year. The Strategic Energy Institute anticipates a pipeline between the institutions, where the EFF participants encourage their colleagues to engage with Georgia Tech in future cohorts, call on each other for collaborations on federal grant proposals, and the faculty to send students to the summer undergraduate or graduate programs at Georgia Tech. 

The 2023 Summer program included

  • Mario Bencomo (Cal State Fresno, HSI), hosted by Comas Haynes (student - Mikayla Leggett)
  • Guanyu Huang (Spelman, HBCU), hosted by Marilyn Brown (student - Nia McKenzie)
  • Xingpeng Li (U Houston, HSI), hosted by Pascal Van Henternryck

The program concluded with a closeout reception where the attendees presented their research work from the past 10 weeks that they spent on the Georgia Tech campus and confirmed their key takeaway as to grow and nurture the research collaborations they have built this summer. Please scroll down to read about each of their experiences at Georgia Tech.

Mario Bencomo, Fresno State

Hosted by: Comas Haynes, Principal Research Engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute, Hydrogen Initiative Lead at SEI

Mario Bencomo is an assistant professor in Mathematics at Fresno State and was hosted by Comas Haynes, Principal Research Engineer and Research Faculty in the Intelligent Sustainable Technologies Division at GTRI and the lead for Hydrogen initiative at the Strategic Energy Institute.

Mario's Energy Faculty Fellow experience in his own words:

"Overall this summer experience has been very productive. Personally, this program has given me the space and resources to engage in research, which is a challenge coming from a teaching intensive institution. Though I am familiar with the fundamental mathematics of the problem, the application is new to me and an opportunity to grow my research portfolio. To that end, collaborating with Comas and his team has been instrumental in the earlier stages of problem formulation.

Work done over this summer has provided the groundwork for a research program I plan on carrying out at Fresno State. In particular, we have developed baseline code that will serve as the foundation for developing more sophisticated models as well as a framework for a monitoring system. It is my plan to continue collaborating with Comas and his team as I continue this work, while engaging students from my institution in research." 

Student: Mikayla Leggett

Mikayla is an undergraduate student at Fresno State and worked with Mario in the program. Mikayla mentioned the below about her experience at Georgia Tech:

"The SURE program has been an amazing opportunity to see how research is conducted and to experience a new place. During my time here I’ve learned about mathematical methods I was unfamiliar with and how to implement them. Additionally, it’s been fascinating to see how research is done, and the collaborative process between experts in different disciplines, like Dr. Haynes. I am excited to continue working on this project with Dr. Bencomo even after this program ends. I’ve also greatly appreciated the chance to see Georgia Tech and Atlanta and everything they have to offer. I was fortunate enough to be assigned fantastic roommates who I’ve really enjoyed getting to know. They’re definitely friends, and I hope we can keep in touch after the program ends. Experiencing the city and the culture has also been a highlight of my experience."

Guanyu Huang

Hosted by: Marilyn Brown, a Regents' and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech

Guanyu Huang is an assistant professor in Environmental and Health Science at Spelman College. Read below to know what Guanyu Huang had to say about his experience at Georgia Tech.

"I had an excellent experience at Georgia Tech, and I really enjoyed working with Dr. Brown and the Strategic Energy Institute colleagues. We are working on a paper and will continue our collaboration after my fellowship. My key takeaway from this fellowship is the great opportunity to work closely with Georgia Tech Principal Investigators and form new collaborations between Spelman and Georgia Tech that we plan to continue in the future."  

Student: Nia Devonne McKenzie

Nia is a sophomore at Spelman College majoring in Environmental Science, with a passion for sustainable policies, research, and service. 

“The program was an enlightening experience that significantly contributed to my research and analysis skills. I have had the fantastic opportunity of working with graduate students to find innovative solutions to climate problems. The Climate Energy Policy Lab has been a joy to work with. I truly am grateful for my time at Georgia Tech with the Strategic Energy Institute.”

Xingpeng Li (University of Houston)

Hosted by: Professor Pascal Van Henternryck, School of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Georgia Tech

Xingpeng Li is an assistant professor in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston. He was hosted by Pascal Van Henternryck, a A. Russell Chandler III Chair and Professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. Xingpeng Li shares his experience and takeaways from the Faculty Fellow program below:

My overall experience at Georgia Tech:

“It’s really an amazing experience to visit Georgia Tech for this summer. I not only got to know the city and the university here and had a lot of fun, but also gained unique experience interacting with talented students, post-docs and senior researchers, and faculties at Georgia Tech.”

Collaborations with Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck and his team during the past 10 weeks:

“In addition to several individual meetings with Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck, I attended roughly two of their meetings each week: one research group meeting and one machine learning (ML) methodology reading meeting. I got to know the cutting-edge research Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck’s team does through the research group meetings and got the opportunity to learn emerging ML technologies through the ML methodology reading meetings. I also shared my University of Houston team’s research and experience such as power system dynamics and stability-constrained energy scheduling that well complement to the current research of Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck’s team, which makes it suitable for establishing collaborations. I also shared my personal experience as a junior faculty with some Ph.D. students and post-docs here, which may help encourage them to look for academia jobs after graduation.”

Key takeaways from this program and work products:

“Get to know how a large research team is managed efficiently and effectively (by learning from my host at AI4OPT). Get to learn innovative ML approaches that may be very useful to support my own team’s research work. Complementary expertise with my host’s team makes it possible to establish and maintain long-term collaborations. Got to know many exciting energy-related initiatives by Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute. Got to know and interact with a number of energy-related professors, researchers and engineers. Created a concept paper that could be potentially extended to a full proposal for future grant applications with my host.”

Final comments:

“There is a weekly informal social event at Pascal Van Hentenryck’s team, which provides good interactive opportunities for people in his team (a very large and strong research team). During such informal ‘meetings’, I really enjoyed the interactions with other team members. Having a short enjoyable break can relieve pressure while working hard on daily research work.”

Mario Bencomo and Mikayla Leggett presenting at the closeout reception

Mario Bencomo and Mikayla Leggett presenting at the EFF Closeout Reception

Xingpeng presentation

Xingpeng Li from the University of Houston presenting at the Closeout Reception

Guanyu Huang Nia Presentation

Guanyu Huang and Nia McKenzie Presenting at the Closeout Reception

News Contact

Priya Devarajan || SEI Communications Program Manager