Ji Zhou is a first-year Ph.D. student and researcher at SyracuseCoE’s Building Environment Science & Technology (BEST) Lab, led by Syracuse University Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Bing Dong. Ji earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his master’s degree in Applied Data Science from Syracuse University.

Working with SyracuseCoE building expert and SU Professor Ian M. Shapiro, Ji’s current research focuses on advancing a Building America project, “Reducing Applied Losses in Heat Pumps.” The project aims to improve efficiencies in air-source heat pumps, ultimately optimizing energy utilization throughout New York State. Ji’s research encompasses urban-scale human mobility studies and the development of occupant-based control and modeling methodologies. He aspires to pioneer methodologies that generate expansive datasets that mirror real-world scenarios while addressing privacy concerns. Through his work, he aims to contribute to the advancement of energy-efficient technologies and urban planning strategies.

Real-World Prep “SyracuseCoE holds so many workshops, seminars and conferences. And at these events, we meet experienced experts from different industries and [can] relate our research to the real world. CoE provides a platform where I can interact with state-of-the-art technologies. The building itself is also unique, with so many labs that help us take on more comprehensive, in-depth and complex experiments.”

Takeaway “Right now, I’m working on the Building America project with Professor Shapiro and Taitem Engineering. It’s been a really good opportunity for me to connect with other people within the industry. Working on the projects isn’t just about what we’re researching, but also about communicating with others to make progress and work well.”

Highlight “There are many highlights to me. People at CoE are very friendly and amazing. The faculty and staff organize potlucks where we can enjoy food from different cultures. We also have a wellness room on the 2nd floor to take breaks. I also like the ping-pong table on the first floor. It’s one way the CoE helps us to balance our lives and our work.”

Wenfeng Huang is a Ph.D. student researcher at SyracuseCoE’s Building Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratory (BEESL), working with SyracuseCoE Executive Director Jianshun “Jensen” Zhang. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Energy and Power Engineering and a master’s degree in Metallurgical Thermal Engineering, both from Wuhan University of Science and Technology.

Wenfeng also works alongside SyracuseCoE building expert and SU Professor Ian M. Shapiro on his Building America project, working to reduce applied energy losses in heat pumps. She also researches technologies for more effective and energy efficient approach to particle removal in buildings.

Real-World Prep “My favorite thing about CoE is the opportunity to go to so many events and seminars. For me, watching the researchers give their presentations is inspirational. They’re always trying to change something, improve the building or [improve] the environment. It makes me think, ‘What can I do in my area to bring about change the way they do?’”

Takeaway “The first thing I realized when I started working at CoE is that we can do something in our field. Our team reaches our goals; every project is planned and executed very efficiently. We are doing work with Professor Shapiro on site visits and assessing some residential homes; we find a lot of issues, most of the time. But, it’s inspiring because I’ve found that we can always improve something, improve people’s living. That’s what I think engineering can do.” 

Highlights “One highlight for me is how nice the people in CoE are. I miss Loral [Wilson]; we used to talk a lot. She would always help me when I needed to talk and gave me the best encouragement in the past year. The faculty and staff at CoE really care about students.”