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Six women stand inside Neyland Stadium with the green field and south-end seating behind them. From left are Kim Pestovich, Jalonda Thompson, Sijal Jinturkar, Stephanie Cool, Rachel RIu, and Javiette Samuel.

Engineering Vols Present Research During Japanese Business Roundtable

UT’s Center for Global Engagement co-hosted the Japanese Business Roundtable in March 2023 to build business and professional relationships between the state of Tennessee and Japan. UT faculty members gave lightning talks and roundtable discussions throughout the day and UT students had the opportunity to present their research during a student poster session.

Jalonda Thompson, director of the college’s Women in Engineering Program (WiE), connected engineering students Sejal Jinturkar and Kim Pestovich to the event. WiE promotes women’s full participation in engineering, creating a supportive and engaging network for students to explore new opportunities.

Kim Pestovich

Pestovich is a PhD student in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering who investigates new scintillator materials to be used for radiation detection. Jinturkar is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her research at ORNL in 2021 focused on saving energy and costs for lower-income homes.

“My research is motivated by improving detector technology used in high energy X-ray radiography systems,” said Pestovich. “Systems like these are deployed at borders and seaports to screen the contents of cargo containers. At the Japanese Business Roundtable, I presented on how slight changes in the chemical formulation of our scintillator crystals alters key properties responsible for the quality of X-ray radiographs.

She appreciated the unique opportunity to present research at the Japanese Business Roundtable Student Poster Session.

“Speaking to the company representatives during the poster session was really meaningful to me, since they all brought a different perspective to my research and the motivating application,” she said. “From these discussions, it was helpful to gain perspective on how my work plays a role in the supply chain and manufacturing domains. I am very grateful to have had the support of the Women in Engineering Program at UT, since otherwise, I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to present my research at this multidisciplinary and international event. Also, collaboration with the Center for Global Engagement at UT has opened the door to make many more connections and seek out opportunities beyond what I would normally encounter.”

Jinturkar also enjoyed the connections and collaborative experience of sharing her work from her 2021 internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Sejal Jinturkar

“The Department of Energy has the Weatherization Assistance Program, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has the National Energy Audit Tool that focuses on single unit mobile homes,” she said. “The tool allows users to input building data such as lighting and electricity usage, and the program provides an audit that shows the amount of energy and monetary expenditures based on monthly data. My role within this project revolved around assisting programmers build a new calculator that used hourly data so that this would give families more updated information. To assist programmers, I created a mapping framework of pseudo-code that correlated existing building retrofit inputs to what they would appear as in the back-end of the new calculation engine.”

She appreciated being able to present her poster in-person at the session, as her internship had been completely remote.

“Hearing others’ ideas about energy efficiency within lower-income communities and their questions around the topic reminds me of the practicality of this field and how useful it is going to continue to be,” said Jinturkar. “I also loved speaking to different representatives from different companies and learning more about their backgrounds. It was really interesting to see how their work aligned with other aspects of energy efficiency and sustainability in their industries. It was also unique to hear perspectives from people all over the world and different cultural backgrounds speak on their experiences and provide career advice to me. Additionally, speaking to the Consulate General of Japan—Nashville, Yoichi Matsumoto, was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. I am glad that the UT Knoxville provides opportunities like this to students for showcasing their work and meeting new people.”

Collaborative sponsors and UT campus and community partners came together to host the event, including the DENSO Corporation, Division of Diversity and Engagement, Office of Research Innovation and Economic Development, Haslam College of Business, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Office of Asia Engagement, Asian Cultural Center of Tennessee / Knox Asian Festival, and the Japan-America Society of Tennessee.