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Pathways to Innovation

NETL Director Dr. Grace Bochenek tours the Swanson School of Engineering

The University of Pittsburgh and the Swanson School of Engineering have enjoyed a strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), with faculty utilizing NETL’s facilities to further their research. On February 11, Pitt and the Swanson School had the opportunity to welcome NETL’s new leadership and show the impact of that collaboration in labs throughout Benedum Hall of Engineering.

“For many years Pitt and NETL have partnered in energy-related research, from individual projects and fellowships to faculty and student fellowships and collaborative projects via the Regional University Alliance,” explained Brian Gleeson, PhD, the Harry S. Tack Chair Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “With new leadership now at the helm of NETL, we welcomed the opportunity to discuss and present our wide range of capabilities in energy-related research.”

In August 2014, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz named Grace M. Bochenek, PhD as NETL’s director, where she manages a diverse $9 billion, 1,800-project portfolio that seeks to create commercially viable solutions to energy and environmental challenges; oversees NETL partnerships with research universities and the private sector; and manages onsite research in computational and basic sciences, energy system dynamics, geological and environmental systems, and materials science. Her visit was set in motion after she served as a plenary speaker at the Pittsburgh Coal Conference, hosted by the Swanson School and led by Executive Director Badie I. Morsi, PhD, Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

Joining Dr. Bochenek for the visit were Kirk Gerdes, PhD, who is NETL Chief of Staff and an NETL fuel cell researcher, and Pitt alumnus and Deputy Executive Director of NETL’s Research and Innovation Center, Bryan Morreale, PhD.

“The University of Pittsburgh and NETL intersect in our common mission to develop advanced technologies supporting 21st century energy markets in our region and nationally.  It is great to be part of the ingenuity nexus of Pittsburgh, and to witness the innovative research being done at the University that so complements our NETL mission space,” Dr. Bochenek said.

Before an afternoon meeting with Pitt Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher, the NETL team met with several Pitt faculty and staff, including Robert Enick, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and NETL Faculty Fellow; Dr. Gleeson; Ken Jordan, PhD, Professor of Chemistry and Co-Director of Pitt’s Center for Simulation and Modeling (SAM); Dr. Morsi; Gregory Reed, PhD, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Pitt’s Center for Energy; Mr. Don Shields, Associate Vice Provost for Research Initiatives; Brian Stewart, PhD, Associate Professor of Geology and Environmental Science; and Götz Veser, PhD, Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Associate Director of the Center for Energy.

“When you look at NETL’s areas of research, they overlap with a lot of what we do, such as natural gas and carbon capture, and so it’s important that we explore new opportunities to collaborate,” Dr. Gleeson said. “Partnership and collaboration can open new pathways to innovation and funding resources, and Dr. Bochenek brings to the table a strong research career and government experience to be a great partner with Pitt.”

More about Dr. Bochenek
Dr. Bochenek has more than 25 years of technical and management experience in the federal government with the Department of Defense. She was most recently the first Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Army Materiel Command where she served as the principal technical advisor on all engineering and scientific activities within the command. She also provided management oversight to the command’s six regional centers, the Army Research Laboratory and the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Agency with a budget of more than $2.5 billion. Prior to this position, Dr. Bochenek led research, development and engineering strategies as Director of the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research division. Dr. Bochenek has a B.S. in electrical engineering from Wayne State University, an M.S. in engineering from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Central Florida.

About NETL
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory system, is owned and operated by the DOE. NETL supports the DOE mission to advance the energy security of the United States.
NETL implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental research and development (R&D) programs that will return benefits for generations to come. These include:

  • Enabling domestic coal, natural gas, and oil to economically power our Nation’s homes, industries, businesses, and transportation.
  • Protecting our environment and enhancing our energy independence.

NETL has expertise in coal, natural gas, and oil technologies; contract and project management; analysis of energy systems; and international energy issues.

In addition to research conducted onsite, NETL’s project portfolio includes R&D conducted through partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual arrangements with universities and the private sector. Together, these efforts focus a wealth of scientific and engineering talent on creating commercially viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems.



Above: Kirk Gerdes, Bryan Morreale, Badie Morsi, Grace Bochenek, Gerald Holder, Brian Gleeson

Above left: Götz Veser with Director Bochenek

Contact: Paul Kovach