Our History

The Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems (CEHMS) is a consortium of major research universities, industry partners and commercial and government organizations. The three major research universities that comprise CEHMS are Virginia Tech, Columbia University and Penn State with extensive international collaborations in India, Taiwan, Korea, Canada, and Germany that provide additional opportunities to leverage external funds and provide higher return on the industry investment.

CEHMS is sponsored through the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program with the aim of developing interdisciplinary strengths in science and technology issues related to the sustainable development of energy solutions. World-renown professors with backgrounds and interests in different fields of engineering, chemistry, physics and computer science are working cooperatively and supervising state-of-the-art research laboratories to provide integrated solutions for challenging energy efficiency, storage and distribution problems. At CEHMS, research advances are being made in the fields of materials, structural dynamics, electronics and storage media to develop self-powered systems, open pathway for distributed power sources and grid integration.

The consortium has achieved its excellence by performing research on industry-driven projects with the objective of translating laboratory prototypes into commercial products, building state-of-the-art laboratories across multiple partner institutions to create cutting-edge research capabilities, establishing cooperation venues among researchers to address challenges in finding energy solutions. Increasing the number of our industry partners and setting up new centers at national and international universities are continuous goals.

CEHMS has made significant progress over the past several years in identifying and implementing a variety of materials and systems for energy harvesting across a broad range of platforms.

Organizational Structure

Project Cultivation and Evaluation Process

CEHMS project cultivation and evaluation process in collaboration with IAB members

Projects are selected during the Spring meeting by the industry advisory board (IAB) from a list of proposed projects by CEHMS core and affiliate faculty members. The cultivation process follows the NSF recommended format as shown in the figure and PIs of proposed projects give presentations during the meeting. Each approved projects has duration of one year. The IAB and interested industry members monitor all projects. All projects must be reviewed in the Fall meeting with no requirement for decisions on any project if satisfactory progress is being made. All projects must be reviewed in the Spring semester and a board’s decision regarding the continuation of each project is expected during this meeting. The industry/university interaction within the center is evaluated using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Currently, surveys and individual interviews with faculty, students, and industry participants are used to gain information on the satisfaction of individuals with the quality and impact of the center on implementing innovative energy harvesting technologies. One-to-one interaction with IAB has been significant in the evaluation process. Because this evaluation is designed longitudinally, repeated surveys and interviews are conducted over time, with special interest given to how the interactions of the center have affected the work and perceptions of the participants. In addition, entry and exit surveys have been conducted to assess the satisfaction level of students (both graduate and undergraduate) and technical staff who conduct research at the center.

Why join an I/UCRC?

  • Access to generalized CEHMS work products such as research finding and technology developed by other CEHMS academic partners through pooled research funds.
  • Membership in the CEHMS Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) provides opportunity to interact with industrial leaders and researchers in specialize in materials, structural dynamics, electronics and storage covering micro-scale to macro-scale systems generalized CEHMS work products
  • Access to top students enables recruiting the best-prepared engineering graduates
  • Shared fundamental research results from other CEHMS academic partners provides tremendous leveraging of each member’s research dollars (ex., royalty-free license access to over $5M in previous research)
  • Member-specified project utilizing the expertise and resources of a university team working with your managers

How to Join

CEHMS membership begins with discussing your Energy Harvesting needs with one of the CEHMS Site Directors.  The CEHMS Director will work with you to ensure that the appropriate match is made in terms of research area and university affiliation.  At that point, the Site Director will arrange a meeting to discuss CEHMS in more detail.

If you are interested in joining CEHMS as an Industrial Partner, please review our Membership Agreement.

If you are interested in joining CEHMS as an academic partner, please review our guidelines for new Academic Partners.

Dr. Lei Zuo
Director, Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems
315 Durham Hall (0261), 1145 Perry Street, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: (540) 231-7270
E-mail: leizuo@vt.edu