Grad student receives internship from National Science Foundation

Mechanical engineering grad student, Shashwat Maharjan, to study geothermal energy with Geologica Geothermal Group

| Author: Hadlee Rinn | Media Contact: Kara Owens

Shashwat Maharjan, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, received an internship funded by the National Science Foundation to study geothermal energy. The goal of Maharjan’s research is to predict the natural state temperature of subsurface geothermal reservoirs, reducing costs in decision-making during the geothermal resource exploration phase. 

Maharjan explains, “You have a potential source and drill a hole or well into it. Since you have disturbed the potential source, it takes time [to heat back up] because the well has now been exposed to outside fluids and atmosphere.” In the U.S., wells may take two to three months to reheat, which is why decision-making during this exploration phase is so crucial to reducing wasted potential and money. Each day on standby at the rigs could cost tens of thousands of dollars.  

To study the reservoirs, Maharjan is using simulation data to create and evaluate models of this system. Recently, he received data from Contact Energy, a large geothermal operator in New Zealand. His next steps are to test his machine learning models against real-world reservoirs to see if the models accurately predict temperatures. 

Maharjan is grateful to CMU for hosting his research endeavors. During his undergraduate application, he was originally going to be attending another institution. However, Marharjan changed his mind after CMU offered him a scholarship. Maharjan expresses his gratitude, saying, “With the internship, it involves a lot of time and effort from all parties, for just one student. The professors, Dean, ORGS, and Geologica Geothermal Group have put in so much effort, just for me. […] This really shows how much people care about graduate students at CMU.” 

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.