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Poster session highlights latest evolution in GE-funded natural gas initiative

January 26, 2015

Dean Whiteman and Zhenhui (Jessie) Li
Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of the Penn State Smeal College of Business, listens as Zhenhui (Jessie) Li, an assistant professor in the college of Information Sciences and Technology, explains her research during the CCRINGSS poster presentation.
A group of GE executives from around the country converged on campus recently to meet with representatives from the Smeal College of Business and three other Penn State colleges as part of the continuing evolution of the Center for Collaborative Research on Intelligent Natural Gas Supply Systems (CCRINGSS).

GE announced in September that it would invest up to $10 million in Penn State to establish a new innovation center focused on driving cutting-edge advancements in the natural gas industry. The center is designed to spur collaboration among Smeal, the colleges of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering, and Information Sciences and Technology and multiple centers and institutes.

Gene Tyworth, John J. Coyle Endowed Professor of Supply Chain Management and department chair of Supply Chain and Information Systems at Smeal, is acting director of CCRINGSS. He said he’s encouraged at how quickly the partnerships have formed.

Read more about CCRINGSS: http://news.smeal.psu.edu/news-release-archives/2014/september/smeal-to-contribute-to-ge-supported-center-to-study-natural-gas-supply-chains

“I think it came together surprisingly well considering there are so many moving parts,” he said. “It’s an exciting initiative. On paper everybody wants to work together with different disciplines. The challenge is to break down organizational silos to foster some joint initiatives. I think this is a good first step.”

Neal Sharkey and Tom Shaginaw
Penn State Vice President of Research Neil Sharkey, left, talks to Tom Shaginaw, university research program manager for GE Global Research, during the poster presentation.
The Nittany Lion Inn event on Jan. 8 signaled the beginning of the collaborative process. Faculty from across the institution engaged in a poster session to share current research and spur ideas for future partnerships.

“I was impressed with the breadth and depth of research being conducted by so many talented people,” said Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal. “It will be fascinating to observe what collaborations evolve from this session.”

Tom Shaginaw, university research program manager with GE Global Research, said university collaborations are uncommon. Penn State and Purdue are the only two schools GE has entrusted with such partnerships.

“I’m really excited about the great technology that Penn State is bringing into the conversation,” Shaginaw said. “I’m with a group of technologists from GE corporation from across our oil and gas and global research functions who are here to interact with the faculty to identify great technologies that we might collaborate on.”

Research Poster Presentation
The poster presentation was an opportunity for researchers to explain their latest research to other professors and to GE officials.
Shaginaw said that CCRINGSS is seeking collaborations that will provide solutions to challenges that exist across the natural gas industry. Some of those challenges include field system efficiency, zero water fracturing, and how to avoid flaring at well sites.

“The industry might have an appetite for the right solution,” he said. “Let’s find it. It’s good for our customers; it’s good for the world.”

Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s vice president of research, said the university’s combination of expertise in the subject matter and history of collaboration should ease the way forward.

“We’ve done this before. We do this really well,” Sharkey said. “It’s unique in that we have a private industry founder for this.”

Tyworth said proposals are now being accepted and he and a committee will make funding decisions by March. He said CCRINGSS hopes to have research initiatives go live by June 30.

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