Energy Partnership Brings New Sustainability and Educational Opportunities to Campus

The Comprehensive Energy Management Project has been the talk of campus since the university announced 50-year public-private partnership in April.

ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure, both leaders in energy services and sustainability, created Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP) to serve Ohio State’s energy needs. ENGIE Services will operate the university’s power, heating and cooling systems. It also aims to install energy conservation measures with the goal of reducing the campus’ total energy consumption per square foot by 25 percent in 10 years within a $250 million budget.

In another part of the agreement, OSEP’s $150 million in academic investments will support internships; undergraduate and graduate/professional student scholarships; a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization; faculty positions; along with curriculum and other sustainability initiatives. OSEP also will be making annual philanthropic investments, such as those to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, Women in Engineering and USG sustainability programs announced earlier this year.

This semester, OSEP hosted a lunch and learn event, the first of many the company plans to hold for students. Because ENGIE Services works on campus and has an office in the Baker Systems Engineering building, the company and its representatives, such as ENGIE Services Office Manager Layne Toops, have been building relationships with students and wanted to disseminate general information on the partnership, goals and internships in an open forum.

ENGIE’s status as a multinational company makes it an attractive employer to many international students. Jay Mota, a fourth-year in chemical engineering from Mumbai, India, says he has been following ENGIE closely. His technical electives focused on sustainability, so he has a “deep interest in ENGIE’s work in energy use reduction.”

Vikas Munjal, director of sustainability for USG, attended the lunch and learn with Zayn Dweik, another member of the sustainability committee, “to learn more about the structure and roles of ENGIE and Axium.”

“After learning that USG will be the recipient of a $50,000 investment from the company, the sustainability committee thought it would be best to learn as much as possible about the organization so that we can use the money toward a project/initiative that aligns with student interests,” he says. Munjal praised Serdar Tufekci, CEO of OSEP (photo: below, right) for having “a great vision for academic collaboration. He really understands the passion of students on campus.”

OSEP is offering 10 internships per year for the next 50 years, Tufekci explains. These internships will be located either on Ohio State’s campus or at various Axium and ENGIE offices across the globe. Toops is delighted that so many students have a passion for sustainability and have shown immense interest in these positions. The first four internships have been filled, but additional opportunities will be posted at the beginning of 2018 through Buckeye Careers.

“The education you’re getting here at Ohio State University is exactly the education we want at ENGIE,” says Gregg Garbesi, the managing director of ENGIE Services, adding that the company focuses heavily on people and not just technology.

Garbesi tells students that while internships are not the only way to land a full-time job with ENGIE, they serve as an “extended interview” and are a great way for students to showcase their skills and commitment.

“This collaboration is unlike any other,” Toops says. “To say you were involved in it in any facet would be important to your future.”

OSEP plans to continue its lunch and learn series throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Future forums could address how students can affect energy use on campus or how the new metering system will be used on campus. The OSEP website, the layout of which was voted on by students attending the first lunch and learn, is scheduled to go live next month.

Ravleen Kaur is a student communications assistant in the Office of Energy and Environment.