Systems, Buildings & Energy EfficiencyMSU is studying tiny homes as a housing solution and discovering energy conditions that do not exist in larger homes (R. Johnson group).

ERI researchers investigate design and implementation of passive and active building systems including geothermal heat pumps, insulated structural panels, thermal battery storage and rooftop solar photovoltaic panels.  Additionally researchers are developing novel non-invasive monitoring techniques and control systems for multi-source applications. 

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Kevin Amende

Kevin Amende is an assistant professor in the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department. His research focuses on building energy systems and the manufacturing process.

Prof. Amende can be reached at 406-994-6304 or


Hongwei Gao

Hongwei Gao is an assistant professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He develops power converters for solid oxide fuel cell systems. These DC-to-AC converters condition the power produced by fuel cells. Dr. Gao has developed soft-switched converters for residential fuel cell power systems and is working on modular inverters for large-scale fuel cell systems.

Dr. Gao can be reached at 406-994-5973 or


Ralph Johnson

Ralph Johnson is a professor in the School of Architecture. He has taught at Montana State University since 1986. He is a licensed architect and active member of the American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association. His research and creativity activities have focused on architectural design, urban and rural design as well as contemporary architectural theory. He is the recipient of over 25 teaching, architectural and urban design awards and has received over $250,000 in funded research for community design and development over the past ten years. His book, Building form the Best of the Northern Rockies, articulates Professor Johnson's sustainable planning principles and illustrates, through case studies, many of the successes that have been achieved throughout the Northern Rockies. In addition to his teaching, research, and publication related to sustainable communities, Professor Johnson served as the Director of the Burton K. Wheeler Center for Public Policy at Montana State University. The Center focuses on educating Montanan's relative to contemporary issues and the public policy strategies with the potential to address these issues.

Mr. Johnson can be reached at 406-994-4650 or


Hashem Nehrir

Hashem Nehrir is a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Dr. Nehrir received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees all in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1969, 1971, and 1978, respectively. He started his educational career in 1971 and joined the Montana State University Electrical Engineering faculty in 1987. He has taught a variety of courses on electric power systems, alternative energy power generation, energy conversion devices, electric circuits, and control. Dr. Nehrir's active research includes modeling, control, and energy management of alternative energy distributed generation (DG) sources and microgrids with multiple alternative energy and conventional DG sources, and smart grid functions including demand response and application of intelligent control and multiagent systems to power systems. His research has been supported by a variety of sources, including: The US National Science Foundation, NSF-EPSCoR, USDOE, DOE-EPSCoR, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Electric Power Research Institute, The Montana Power Company (now NorthWestern Energy), Montana Electric Power Cooperatives, and Montana Electric Power Affiliates Program (MEPRA).

Dr. Nehrir can be reached at 406-994-4980 or


Steven R. Shaw

Dr. Shaw is a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He works on modeling and control of energy systems, storage, and conversion devices.

Dr. Shaw can be reached at 406-994-5982 or