Two Shepherd University science professors have received instrumentation grants from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research. Dr. Mohammadreza Ghahremani, assistant professor of computer engineering, received a $20,000 grant to purchase a vacuum arc melting furnace, and Dr. Sytil Murphy, assistant professor of physics, received a $19,921 grant to buy a DJI Matrice unmanned aerial vehicle.
“I am so excited and delighted to be able to purchase an arc melting furnace to pursue my ongoing research on magnetic refrigeration technology,” Ghahremani said. “This project aims to design, develop, and implement the first scalable, commercially viable, compressor-free magnetic refrigerator system as an energy efficient and environmentally friendly next generation refrigeration technology.”
Ghahremani said the technology could also be used for the next generation of CPU cooling devices, heat pumps, and air conditioning units, replacing vapor-compression techniques.
“Magnetic cooling technology does not use ozone depleting and hazardous chemicals or greenhouse gases,” he said. “Its cooling efficiency is significantly higher than conventional cooling technology, it can be built more compactly, and it generates less noise.”
Ghahremani said having the arc melting furnace will significantly expand Shepherd’s research potential. It will also give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and be involved in practical, experimental, and theoretical studies, enabling them to have a better understanding of magnetisms and physics and learning the phenomena that exists in nanomaterials and magnetic alloys.
Murphy said the grant she received will be used to purchase a DJI Matrice unmanned aerial vehicle with sensors covering the red, blue, green, red edge, near infrared, and thermal infrared spectral bands. The drone will be used to collect data to be analyzed by students in the environmental sciences, particularly the new environmental geomatics concentration.
“As a department, we are very excited,” Murphy said. “This equipment will substantially enlarge our ability to provide the students with hands-on data acquisition and will increase the types of data that can be taken.”
Murphy said Shepherd students and faculty will be able to use the drone to detect pests and monitor irrigation and nutrients in a farm field, create a map that determines placement of solar panels and wind turbines, show how to best route wildlife corridors or power lines, and determine the extent of damage during disasters such as flooding.