Mechanical engineering doctoral student wins EDF Climate Corps fellowship

Published: Apr 9, 2024 3:00 PM

By Kat Bader

Mechanical engineering doctoral student Onyedika Mbelu has been tapped for the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps Fellowship.

For the fellowship, the EDF matched Mbelu with BrandSafway, an Atlanta-based construction and civil engineering company providing safety equipment to businesses in 30 countries.

While working for the company, Mbelu will embark on an ambitious project aimed at improving energy efficiency and sustainability across its 200 North America facilities.

His responsibilities will include assessing how energy use fluctuates with the seasons, the types and combinations of energy sources employed, pinpointing areas with significant energy consumption and formulating strategies to reduce, curb or shift toward more sustainable energy usage.

The final output of this project will be a comprehensive report of his findings and recommendations that also details cost-benefit analysis of various energy reduction or transition initiatives that could be implemented at specific sites or across the nation.

Mbelu says that the analysis will serve as a foundational tool for the company to evaluate the proposed recommendations and strategically prioritize energy efficiency projects.

“Such initiatives are expected to not only lead to significant reductions in long-term operational costs but also contribute to a notable decrease in the company's carbon footprint, underscoring our commitment to environmental responsibility and setting a benchmark in corporate sustainability efforts,” he said.

Mbelu’s doctoral research focuses on computational and experimental evaluation of direct contact thermal energy storage.

He has also worked on DCHEX, which has advantages of energy savings, cooling and heating relief.

“This experience and skill set immensely helped me secure a spot in the fellowship from a competitive pool of more than 1,200 applicants across the United States,” he said.

In 2023, Mbelu worked as a Purdue University Climate scholar on Developing Policies for Scaling Up CO2 Sequestration Globally. Using Puerto Rico as a case study, he worked on developing effective regulatory measures that ensured environmental integrity while promoting CO2 sequestration in Puerto Rico.

“I am honored and privileged to receive this fellowship and contribute to promoting sustainability, encouraging full transition to renewable energy and fighting climate change,” Mbelu said. “I wish to express my gratitude to my advisor, Jay Khodadadi (alumni professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering), my research colleague, Junaid Khan, and the entire Department of Mechanical Engineering for its support. I'm thrilled about the opportunity to work alongside the Environmental Defense Fund to assist businesses in evaluating their comprehensive energy use and climate effects across the United States.”

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591
Onyedika Mbelu

Onyedika Mbelu

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