Engineering Tech Receives Seed Grants to Enhance Agriculture

The Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) recently awarded seed grants to two NIU groups of faculty and others around the state that work together to help improve and enhance agricultural practices in Illinois. The projects will work to improve nutrition, turn trash into usable products, look at rural-urban connections and enhance agricultural practices.

The IIN’s Sustaining Illinois program encourages collaboration among researchers at Illinois’ public universities to improve the state’s economy and the health, and social well-being of residents. The IIN seed funding was provided by the University of Illinois System and Northern Illinois University. NIU students will have the chance to help with the two projects that will take place at NIU include.

Assistant Professor Mahdi Vaezi, Ph.D. of NIU’s Department of Engineering Technology

Integrated logistical, techno-economic and socio-environmental assessment framework for sustained municipal solid waste (MSW) conversion facilities: new paradigm shift for the state of Illinois. The researchers are Mahdi Vaezi, assistant professor of engineering technology at Northern Illinois University and Krishna Reddy, professor of civil and environmental engineering at University of Illinois at Chicago. 

The project’s scope is to develop a comprehensive municipal solid-waste framework to optimally locate facilities to convert waste to value-added products, select the most efficient conversion technologies, assess environmental and social factors, and analyze the economic feasibility of the conversion plants.

“The ultimate goal of this research project is to develop a comprehensive Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management framework for assessing the MSW management options for different jurisdictions taking into account logistics, technical, economic, social and environmental factors,” said Professor Vaezi. “Once completed, the model will help governments, county administrators, city councils, private organizations and landfill owners across the state make informed decisions about diverting MSW from landfills and converting into value-added products, and significantly contributing to the Sustaining Illinois goals in multi-faceted way.”

Associate Professor Kevin Martin, Ph.D., NIU’s Department of Engineering Technology

Modification of basil flavor via adjustment of light environment.
The researchers are Kevin Martin, associate professor of engineering technology, Northern Illinois University; Keith Cadwallader, professor of food chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The project’s goal is to explore how agricultural production practices, including vertical farming, influence product quality, and how such practices can be optimized to enhance consumer acceptability. This study will address current limitations and investigate the use of light quality to enhance the flavor of basil.

 

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