Alumni Spotlight: Jan Muehlbauer

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Jan Muehlbauer

Jan Muehlbauer
Faculty Specialist, Center for Enviromental Energy Engineering

Jan Muehlbauer is a useful person to know. He’s practical, insightful and very, very good at designing, building and testing things – all very important qualities for someone working daily with students in our labs. Muehlbauer, CEEE alum and laboratory manager, says that the most important aspects of his job are teaching, quality control and safety.
As manager of both the Heat Pump and Energy laboratories, he teaches students everything from how to use tools, to how to design experiments, test facilities and devices. He ensures what the students design and build actually works, and makes sure what we provide to research sponsors is of the highest quality.

“Our strategy in general is for our EEHP students to gain insights into both practical applications and research”, says Muehlbauer, “and we are very focused on safety and that everything is done properly.” CEEE doesn’t have full-time technicians in our labs. Students have to learn to do a project from beginning to end under his supervision, and he says this approach makes better engineers. “Students graduating from CEEE are engineers who don’t just delegate to techs, but know how to build experimental units themselves.”

Muehlbauer came to the University of Maryland as a student exchange intern from the Technical University of Mannheim (Germany) in 2002, working in the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE). He came back to campus for a second internship in 2003 to work on his bachelor thesis project with Dr. Radermacher, Performance Evaluation of a Two-Stage Carbon Dioxide Compressor, and he was the first student from this program to return to UMD for graduate school. He earned his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2006 with the thesis Investigation of Performance Degradation of Evaporator for Low Temperature Refrigeration Applications. Furthermore, he is a Certified International/European/German Welding Engineer, and has a Diploma Engineer (FH), Process Engineering degree from the University of Applied Sciences, Mannheim, Germany.

He stayed on at CEEE after earning his master’s degree and quickly became an integral part of the operations at the center. Some of the projects that he works on in the lab with students are the setup of 50kW test facility for ammonia heat exchangers, the installation of field tests on next generation VRF systems, designing and testing a thermo electric subcooler for air conditioning systems, developing Labview-based data acquisition software, coordinating with university facilities and companies to decommission two building integrated CHP systems, and designing a complex test facility for refrigerant maldistribution measurements in manifold headers.

The best qualities for a student who may want to supervise a research laboratory are having a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude, and being a team-oriented, hardworking, detail-oriented, and resourceful. Muehlbauer earned these qualities he learned as a student himself working holidays at this father’s CNC (computer numerical control) business, and tutoring other students in welding, math, chemistry, and music.

An outdoorsman, he spends his free time camping, hiking, biking and playing soccer and enjoying time with his wife Kai, and thier two children, Eva and Lukas.

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