May 27, 2014

Changing the Carbon Footprint

Jonathan Silva, BSME '15

Jonathan Silva, Mechanical Engineering, 2015

Co-op Employer:  Toyota Motor Corporation

Co-op Position:  Energy Management Intern

Hometown:  Dartmouth, MA

As humans continue to examine their energy consumption and carbon footprint, Jonathan Silva, BSME ’15, took to the Toyota Motor Corporation this spring to see what he could personally do address the situation.

Silva spent the semester analyzing real-time energy data from the 20 buildings on Toyota’s Torrance, California campus. “It was my job,” he recalled, “to find areas where we can improve and suggest green initiatives and projects that we can implement.”

After examining his findings, Silva would advise whether or not taking on a new project, including solar parking lot lights or another fuel cell, was worth doing financially based on projected energy savings.

During his time with Toyota, Silva was heavily involved with an LED lighting retrofit pilot on the third floor of the building in which he worked. Nearly 400 inefficient bulbs were replaced with more efficient LEDs equipped containing sensors that track ambient light, heat, and occupancy across the entire floor.

“[The LEDs] have reduced our electricity consumption from lighting by 80% in the past month,” he said. “I’ve been fine-tuning it and communicating with the building associates to get it just right.”

Silva credits his co-op and experience living in California with bolstering his ability to be organized and independent.

“The co-op ties skills from my major into facilities management and it has been interesting to see that perspective that I wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise and understand how a big company like Toyota operates, often planning for long-term, million-dollar projects,” he said. “I’ve gotten to experience how much collaboration and joint effort goes on in a big company, and learned the necessity of being prepared and competent.”

Before arriving at Toyota, Silva spent time at Wentworth learning how to organize and analyze data in labs for classes such as Fluids and Thermodynamics, skills that helped well prepare him for him co-op. “They put me ahead of the game for work I did at Toyota,” Silva said of his Wentworth classes. “Even out in California, Wentworth has a reputation for having a solid work ethic and I strived to live up to that.”

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