Alexana Cranmer of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department is the 2013-14 recipient of the Kenneth A. Lloyd Fellowship, awarded annually to a qualified incoming doctoral student in the MIE department who shows exceptional potential for success in his or her field, with a preference given to female applicants. Mr. Lloyd of Duxbury, Massachusetts, graduated from the College of Engineering in 1973, having majored in mechanical engineering. He is currently the vice president and general manager of Electro Switch Corporation in Weymouth, Massachusetts. A longtime supporter of the College of Engineering, Mr. Lloyd has a history of generosity to UMass Amherst, having made previous gifts to create the Kenneth A. Lloyd Scholarship Endowmentand the Kenneth A. Lloyd Engineering Scholarship Endowment. Lloyd also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the MIE department.
Cranmer earned her M.S. in Engineering and Public Policy from the University of Maryland in 2013 and her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 2007. She also served from 2008 until 2010 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa, where she: trained teachers in basic computer use and software; collaborated with other volunteers to plan and teach science camps; acquired book donations to start a school library and lending program; and created visual aids for classrooms.
Cranmer has described her research interests as “taking interdisciplinary approaches to the challenges of renewable energy development and integration with the grid. Wind in particular is a very developed and economically attractive large-scale generation option, but economics are not the only important factor when considering what type of generator to install, but also the state of the local grid and its flexibility as well as any environmental and ecological impacts and social outcomes such as employment and human health.”
With those research goals in mind, Cranmer is participating in the highly selective interdisciplinary graduate program in Offshore Wind Energy Engineering, Environmental Science, and Policy, started with a $3.2-million grant from the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT). This new graduate program, whose Principal Investigator is Professor Erin Baker of the MIE department, will train 24 doctoral students over the course of five years in the technology, environmental implications, and social/economic/regulatory challenges of offshore wind farms.
One reason Mr. Lloyd started his fellowship was to infuse engineering professions with an influx of talented and accomplished women. “I have long been an advocate of women in professional engineering and elsewhere,” explained Mr. Lloyd. “As part of a predominantly male engineering industry, therefore, I have always encouraged upward mobility in women engineers and elevated them throughout their professional careers.”
In the case of Cranmer, the fellowship will guarantee her upward mobility. As she wrote to Mr. Lloyd, “Thank you for your generous provision for the fellowship which the department has awarded to me. It is an enormous help in funding my education and granting me the opportunity to pursue research topics of my choice. My long-term goal is to help bring about a shift in the way we think about and use electricity, particularly in terms of increasing renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart grid infrastructure. I have always had varied interests and a multidisciplinary perspective.”
Upon her return from her Peace Corp assignment in 2010, she decided to branch out from her previous work in materials science and engineering to study the interface of engineering and public policy. After earning her M.S. in Engineering and Public Policy at Maryland and internships at the Air Liquide Delaware Research & Technology Center in Newark, Delaware, and at the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Washington, DC, her educational pilgrimage brought her to UMass Amherst.
“I decided to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts to continue the path I began in renewable energy and to return to my engineering roots as well as expanding the interdisciplinary nature of the my research work,” she explained. “Working with Dr. Erin Baker as part of the IGERT group working on offshore wind energy will provide me a wonderful opportunity to work with an advisor who shares my interests at a university which has proven itself an excellent graduate institution.”
Choosing Alexana Cranmer to receive the Lloyd Fellowship seems like a match made in the heavens, where the use of renewable energy is blowing in the wind, and where far-sighted philanthropy once again flows together with society’s greatest needs. (December 2013)