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Department of Mathematical Sciences hosts workshop on Sustainable Energy Consumption

By Ellen Gwin Burnette

BOONE, N.C.—During the month of June, the Department of Mathematical Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Appalachian State University welcomed faculty from around the world to Reconnect, a conference designed to evaluate mathematical and computational tools for energy efficiency and reliability of data centers.

View larger imageReconnect conference participants included, left to right: Jim Kupitz, Luzerne Community College; Brad Chin, West Valley College; Midge Cozzens, Rutgers University; Katrina Palmer, Appalachian State University; Mary Goodloe, Belmont University; Mary Flag, University of St. Thomas, Texas; Joyati Debnath, Winona State University; James Case, consultant, Baltimore; Violeta Vasilevska, Utah Valley University; Lila Ghemri, Texas Southern University; Sally Cockburn, Hamilton College; Ahlam Tannouri, Morgan State University; Mark Ginn, Appalachian State University; Johann Thiel, CUNY/NYCCT; Jatinder Manhas, University of Jammu; Kevin Shirley, Appalachian State University; Ramar Rajasekaran, College of Applied Sciences, Sohar, Oman; Gene Fiorini, Muhlenberg College; and Mariya Bessonov, CUNY/NYCCT. Photo submitted by Mark Ginn

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has indicated buildings account for almost half of the energy use in industrialized countries, especially data centers. Carbon dioxide emitted by data centers worldwide exceeds the total emissions of Argentina and the Netherlands combined. Consequently, the information technology industry is looking for ways to reduce energy consumption.

The topic at Reconnect, “Mathematical and Computational tools for Energy Efficiency and Reliability of Data Centers and the Electrical Grid – Individual Interests vs. the Common Good,” was explored by seven speakers in three categories. It was attended by 20 scholars from across the United States and internationally from India and Oman.

The first category reviewed the understanding of power management hardware, smart cooling systems and other tools to reduce energy consumption.

The second category examined the development of a smart electrical grid, which would allow consumers to monitor and track energy consumption, and manage energy with supportive tools without compromising privacy.

And the third category explored the development of policies that would balance individual interests versus the common good.

Reconnect Workshops provide faculty of mathematical and computational sciences exposure to current applications of industry professionals. The topics are presented in a weeklong series of lectures with involvement in collaborative research and creation of classroom materials. This was the 19th conference and the first to be hosted by Appalachian.

“When I heard that this year’s workshop was going to be on a topic related to energy, I was very interested in hosting it at Appalachian,” said Dr. Mark Ginn, former chair of the mathematical sciences department and current vice provost for undergraduate education. “In addition to several speakers from across campus, the workshop featured a field trip to the Small Wind Research Demonstration site on Beech Mountain, and to view and hear about the Appalachian Solar Car from some of the students on the team. I think all of the participants left impressed with what they saw at Appalachian.”

Ginn organized the workshop along with the director of Reconnect, Dr. Midge Cozzens, Research Professor, Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science Center (DIMACS), Rutgers University. Presenters included: Dr. Eric Marland, mathematics professor, Appalachian; Ed Hassler, assistant professor of CIS, Appalachian; Dr. Joe Cazier, director of the Center for Analytics Research and Education, Appalachian; and Jason Hoyle, MBA, Energy Center from Appalachian State University. Dr. Trina Palmer and Dr. Kevin Shirley, both of the mathematical sciences department at Appalachian, attended the workshop.

“The Reconnect conference series provides a great opportunity for mathematics faculty to learn about new areas where mathematics is applied,” Ginn said. “It is somewhat unique in that participants are encouraged to think about the new material they are learning from both an educational and a research point of view. This hopefully allows these new applications to make their way into the classroom.”

Other presenters included: Dr. Daniel Bienstock, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Applied Physics and Mathematics Professor, Columbia University; Dr. James Case, Consultant, Mathematician; and Cozzens, Research Professor at DIMACS, Rutgers University.

The workshop was supported by the Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA) and the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS).

CICCADA is a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a University Center of Excellence that uses data analysis and systems to address natural and manmade threats to the safety and security of the American people.

DIMACS facilitates research, education and outreach in mathematics and computer science applications through multi-year, special focus programs to address research topics. This year’s special focus encompassed energy and algorithms.


About the Department of Mathematical Sciences

The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in Actuarial Science and Mathematics, with concentrations in business, computation, life sciences, physical sciences, secondary teaching and statistics, plus a general, self-designed concentration. The department also offers the Master of Arts in Mathematics with concentrations in college teaching and secondary teaching.

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, two stand-alone academic programs, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university’s strengths, traditions and unique location. Our values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of our students as global citizens. There are approximately 5,850 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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