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College of Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Krystel Castillo

receives GreenStar Endowed Professorship in Energy

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Engineering is excited to announce that Krystel Castillo has been awarded the GreenStar Endowed Professorship in Energy. Castillo came to the College of Engineering in 2012 as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and has excelled in both her mentorship of students and research during the last three years.

Krystel Castillo, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and recipient of the GreenStar Endowed Professorship in Energy, presents her research to Paul and Alice Duran in the Manufacturing Systems and Automation Laboratory at the UTSA Main Campus.

“Dr. Castillo is an example to both our faculty and students,” said JoAnn Browning, dean of the College of Engineering. “She is leading her department right now in terms of research productivity and is forming research partnerships both nationally and internationally. Additionally, she is a fantastic mentor for our Hispanic students. Dr. Castillo is an excellent example of what an assistant professor can be. Faculty members such as Dr. Castillo should be recognized and given the extra support that they need to be even more successful in their careers.”

The GreenStar Endowed Professorship in Energy was established with a generous gift to the College of Engineering from Paul and Alice Duran through their company, GreenStar LED Products, Inc., a North American electric equipment manufacturer providing eco-friendly, cost-saving light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. In 2011, the company won a contract to replace 25,000 of San Antonio’s streetlights and, as part of the deal with the city, the firm moved its plant from Boerne to the West Side of San Antonio and agreed to contribute $10 to UTSA’s College of Engineering for every light fixture the firm sold the city. That money was used to fund the GreenStar Endowed Professorship in Energy

“We are very, very impressed with Dr. Castillo, her credentials, and where she is heading with her research,” said Paul Duran. “Green energy is the future. If we are going to leave a good earth and planet to our children and our grandchildren, this is something we have to do. This is the way to go and that is why we wanted to endow a professorship in energy.”

Dr. Castillo’s expertise is mathematical programming and optimization techniques for analyzing large-scale, complex systems under uncertainty. Dr. Castillo is currently conducting research on modeling and design of green energy (bioenergy) systems; modeling the impact of increased adoption of Electric Vehicles and Natural Gas Vehicles on the distribution network and operational costs for fleet owners; and big data analytics for healthcare and defense applications.

“We are so grateful to the Durans for having the vision to recognize the need for an endowed professorship such as the GreenStar,” said Browning. “I think they are going to be very proud of the work that Dr. Castillo has done and will continue to do with the support of this endowment.”

Dr. Castillo is currently conducting a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project focusing on water treatment, agricultural-logistics, and green energy. This project establishes a multidisciplinary platform to increase the scientific and educational capability of engineering curriculum in renewable energy and water resources; nurture next-generation green engineers; and investigate new models applied to green energy integration, production, and technology.

Her research has been funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture; CPS Energy through the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute; Air Force Research Laboratory; Toyota Manufacturing Texas; National Council of Science and Technology; San Antonio Life Sciences Institute; and UTSA seed grants, among others.

“I am very honored and thankful for this Green- Star Endowment,” said Castillo. “This endowed professorship means a lot to me, a junior faculty member, because it offers me the flexibility to use funds to advance my research, and keep up with cutting-edge technologies in emerging energy fields and developments in the new green economy. This endowment fund will allow my research group to sustain the fast-track pace and momentum that we have reached.”

As the first female Hispanic faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Castillo has been recruiting students who are underrepresented in STEM fields for her research group including female engineers, Hispanics, and other minorities. In addition to her assistant professor position, she is also the co-director of the Manufacturing Systems and Automation Laboratory; affiliated faculty of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute; core faculty of the Center of Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems; and core faculty of the Center for Simulation, Visualization, and Real-Time Prediction. Castillo is also the recipient of the prestigious Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship for the summers of 2014 and 2015 to conduct research at the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“Our college is a young engineering school and even though we have made significant strides in the time that we have aimed to be a research-orientated college of engineering, there is more work to be done,” said Browning. “Having endowed positions like this allows our new or existing faculty who are very successful in their fields to have the resources that are necessary for sustained research and educational opportunities for our students, as well as being able to keep our labs in top condition.”

—Deborah Silliman Wolfe/College of Engineering

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