“When am I ever going to use this in real life?” That is the oft-heard refrain from middle- and high-school science students, struggling through labs and formulas that feel as far removed from their day-to-day as, well, space travel. Sarthak…
LCS Junior Ryan Milcarek Awarded Astronaut Scholarship
A mission trip to the western United States a few years ago changed Ryan Milcarek’s life.
After finishing his freshman year at Syracuse University, Milcarek, an industrial design major from Warsaw, N.Y., decided to take a break from college for a time to embark on a mission trip to Nevada.
He was stunned by the living conditions of the residents he met there. Basic living conditions he took for granted at home—proper air quality, heating and air conditioning, functioning bathrooms and ample living space—were missing from many of the homes in the inner city where he worked, doing a wide range of tasks from general cleaning to repairing roofs.
Milcarek was inspired to make a change. “My experiences in Nevada convinced me that there is a lot that can be done to improve peoples’ lives in this modern age. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that change,” he says.
Upon returning to SU, Milcarek changed his major to mechanical engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science. “While industrial design appeals to my creative side, it does not have the mathematical and scientific foundation I need to develop durable solutions for existing problems,” he says.
Milcarek, a rising junior, was recently been named as one of the 2013 recipients of an Astronaut Scholarship, given by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The $10,000 scholarship is presented to 26 top science and engineering students nationwide who exhibit exceptional performance, initiative and creativity in their field, as well as intellectual daring and a genuine desire to positively change the world around them. Astronaut Scholarship recipients are engineering, natural or applied science or mathematics students who have intentions to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degrees.
Among the supporters of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation are SU alumni and former astronauts F. Story Musgrave ’58, H’85 and Eileen Collins ’78, H’01.
After enrolling in LCS, Milcarek was encouraged by his advisor, Fred Carranti, to become involved with Department of Energy’s LCS-based Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), of which Carranti is the founding director. Milcarek is an energy analyst and works with local industrial companies to help them reduce their energy usage. The IAC provides an average of $70,000 in annual energy- related savings for each client, which can be used to revitalize the facilities that implement the necessary changes.
His work with the IAC inspired Milcarek to research and to learn about new subjects. Milcarek’s quest to learn more led him to develop a research project to develop computer software package that uses collected data to analyze energy flow within a facility, to assess the building’s overall efficiency and uncover areas that are not operating efficiently. This new technology will aid future assessments and provide more accurate estimates on total anticipated savings without the high costs that are typically associated with a level three audit, the highest level of audit that can be performed (The IAC performs level two audits). He is currently working on his research under the guidance of Professor Jianshun Zhang in the LCS-based Building Energy and Environmental Systems (BEESL) Laboratory.
When he graduates in May 2014, Milcareck plans to pursue a doctoral degree with research focused on overall building efficiency.
“I am motivated by the belief that buildings can be designed to better incorporate renewable energy and that, eventually, buildings can produce their own energy. My vision is to improve overall building efficiency while also improving the living conditions for the people who reside in them. My hope is that my work will lead to improvements that will better the lives of the people I met in Nevada, as well as people around the globe.”
About the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by the Mercury Astronauts in 1984. Its goal is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for exceptional college students pursuing degrees in these fields. More than 80 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this educational endeavor.