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YES Success with LU’s CICE and Makerspace

Yes LogoYour Environmental Specialist, an environmental compliance and testing company focused on helping gas station owners and operators comply with environmental regulations, has landed some big innovative projects Javed Suranithis spring as a tenant of Lamar University’s Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.

In its first initiative, YES has strategically partnered with UST Training, a nationally recognized digital training provider based in Seattle, to help bring intuitive training solutions to UST operators in Texas. “Through this strategic partnership with UST Training, we believe we can improve both learning comprehension and public safety by providing a modified version of our course to a target audience that struggles with comprehending the details of UST compliance”, said YES CEO/Founder Javed Surani. Surani holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Lamar University and has extensive knowledge of state and federal environmental regulations, experience interpreting environmental law and is a certified pipeline tester and Stage 1 vapor recovery tester.

During development of the courses at USTT, YES also created the industry’s first Class C UST operator course in Hindi to meet the needs of the convenience store workforce. “During the past decade the landscape of convenience store operators has changed,” said Surani. “USTT recognizes that many of its customers are from diverse backgrounds and speak a number of languages so it makes sense to offer training in a language common to the convenience store world. I’m delighted we’re in a position to meet this need.”

Surani saw the opportunity to offer the training and moved quickly to develop the course, and record the training material in the Seattle studio. The training course was finalized through a nation-wide partnership license agreement with USTT in exchange for Surani’s program and marketing channel.

YES provides a full range of inspection options, which include SIR and Inventory Control, monthly walkthrough inspections, cathodic protection equipment inspections, spill bucket cleaning, annual registration and visual verification of overfill prevention. Because of his total immersion in the industry, Surani realized an opportunity to automate the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) checklist to ensure accuracy and consistency.

“A typical gas station operator wears many hats and often falls behind on routine inspections; we believe our cloud-based hardware and software solution automates this process, saves employee hours and prevents fines against the gas station.”

To explore possible solutions, Surani enlisted the help of current LU engineering students. Seemingly an ideal project for LU’s Science & Technology Building’s Makerspace, Surani reached out to the Director of the Makerspace, Dr. Kelley Bradley. Bradley assembled a team of industrial engineering and electrical engineering students to develop an automated checklist proof of concept. The idea became a joint senior design collaboration between Industrial Engineering and Electrical Engineering, spearheaded by EE instructor Cagatay Tokgoz. Surani then worked with students throughout the semester on requirements, platforms, flow diagrams and finally prototype coding to demonstrate an automated process.

“For the first time for many of the students, they visited real customers to find out how they performed inspections and filled out paperwork and heard firsthand their frustrations with the current process,” said Dr. Bradley. “Experiencing customer feedback for the first time really opened up students’ eyes to the reality of theoretical versus practical applications. This is an important step in engineering education – textbook versus real world.”

The success of YES and the collaboration with industry and students fulfills the mission of the CICE to leverage the technologies, expertise and infrastructure of Lamar University to establish new innovation businesses and enhance industry. “We are very excited to see students engaged and new technology companies emerge out of the CICE.,” said Paul Latiolais, director of the CICE. “The experience students receive can be very influential in their college and career development, plus the innovations developed impact industry and business in our region.”