New Siebel Energy Institute Awards Seed Grants to CMU Researchers
By Byron Spice
The newly established Siebel Energy Institute, a consortium of Carnegie Mellon and seven other research universities, marked its official launch Aug. 4 by announcing 24 seed grants, including three to CMU researchers.
Zico Kolter, assistant professor in the Institute for Software Research and Computer Science Department, will lead a project with Sebastian Scherer, systems scientist in the Robotics Institute, using autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and machine learning algorithms to assess electrical distribution systems, identifying portions most likely to fail or, in the case of outages, pinpointing the failures.
Jennifer Mankoff, associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, will lead a project with Stephen Fienberg, professor of statistics, social sciences and machine learning, to reduce energy consumption by developing technology that helps people select rental homes and apartments that are energy efficient.
Abraham Ishihara, senior scientist at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley, working with Ole Mengshoel, associate research professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Silicon Valley campus, and Therese Peffer of the University of California, Berkeley, will perform a pilot study on how distributed sensing and real-time computation can provide incentives for facility managers to reduce energy consumption.
The institute awarded $50,000 seed grants for the Kolter and Mankoff projects and $25,000 to Ishihara’s project.
The institute consortium also includes École Polytechnique, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Politecnico di Torino, Princeton University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Tokyo. The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation established the institute with a $10 million grant. The institute is supported by an Industry Advisory Board that initially includes Pacific Gas & Electric, Honeywell, C3 Energy, and other leading energy companies and industry influencers, who have partnered with the institute to foster active collaboration with the private sector.