Saturday, August 8, 2009

Renewable Energy In the News - Oregon and Oregon State

You may have noticed the "News Widget" in the right side panel. This is a Google tool that provides a quick look at news stories that pertain to the key topics identified in the header. Click on a topic and you see current news stories about that area of renewable energy. This would be a good opportunity to ask visitors to suggest other keywords that interest you - they are easy to add and I'm happy to tailor it to your interests. Just add a comment to this post with your suggestions.

While the widget serves up general news stories, the "In the News" blog post category initiated today will provide a more filtered and education-focused perspective on various "Energication-worthy" topics.

To kick things off, it would be appropriate to start with a topic related to education directly. Let's look at the support that is growing for research and advanced study in higher education. In March, the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center, or Oregon BEST, announced that the University of Oregon and Oregon State University would receive a total of $1.34 million for solar energy research. Officials hope the investment builds Oregon’s reputation as a solar manufacturing center and helps create jobs and attract companies.

Oregon BEST is a public agency that increases research and opportunities in renewable energy and green building by creating partnerships with private-sector partners.

The University of Oregon will receive $768,000 of the money, including $350,000 from Oregon BEST and $418,000 from the Oregon University System. The cash will establish the Photovoltaics Laboratory of the Oregon Support Network for Research and Innovation in Solar Energy, or Oregon SuNRISE.

Oregon State will receive $572,000, including $232,000 from Oregon BEST, $290,000 from the school’s College of Engineering and $50,000 from the school’s research office. The money will be used to establish the Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing. Researchers in the center will study solar manufacturing technology.

“Solar energy companies considering locating here in Oregon need access to highly specialized research equipment, knowledgeable research experts and a workforce skilled and educated about solar energy,” said David Kenney, president and executive director of Oregon BEST. “Oregon has all of this and more distributed among our research universities, and Oregon BEST is proud to be helping build this multi-institutional research network that ultimately benefits people all over the state.”

Developing a full K-12 curriculum related to renewable energy fits hand in glove with the momentum building in the university system. Understanding that not every high school student will go on to college, preparing our students with a renewable energy background is a win-win. If college bound, they will have an advantage over other students when entering programs similar to the ones being formed at Oregon and Oregon State. If they are more inclined to enter the workforce directly, they will have had a very relevant, rewarding, and enriching experience.

The vision is to not only provide specific educational opportunities in renewable energy, but to integrate the principles in the science, technology, environmental, social and civics curriculum. You can see how this all begins to tie together.

What other areas have you found that tie the work we are beginning with the ultimate vision? How do you plan to apply these concepts in the future? What part will you play personally?


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