Herberger Strategic Investment Fund launches

August 17, 2011

Fund supports Young Scholars Academy and Digital Culture Initiative

In addition to the tens of thousands of ASU students who are starting classes this week, several dozen middle school students began their semester on campus at the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy.  Download Full Image

The academy, which addresses the needs of unusually gifted students, was founded last year through The Herberger Strategic Investment Fund, which was established by a $20-million gift from university benefactors Gary K. and Jeanne L. Herberger.

The fund, part of the University’s Strategic Investment Program, is administered by the President’s Office and provides resources on a competitive basis to individual ASU units to launch, initiate and secure substantial additional funding for programs of strategic importance to the university, in particular:

• activities associated with the emergence of new strategic intellectual activities linking programs in design with those in the arts;

• collaborative initiatives between programs in design and those in the arts;

• major specific initiatives in the fields of design and the arts; and

• the launching of the gifted child program in association with Barrett, the Honors College.  

“Gary and Jeanne Herberger, long-time supporters of ASU, are not only great philanthropists but they are visionaries as well,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Their investment targets areas of societal need and areas of interdisciplinary development in arts and design. By establishing a discretionary seed fund, they allow the university to move quickly into exciting new areas, many of which will ultimately find sources of continued funding.”

The Young Scholars Academy, for example, addresses an often overlooked need: the unique educational, social and emotional needs of gifted young adolescents. Students enter the Herberger Academy at the start of seventh grade and embark on a challenging curriculum, completing seventh- and eighth-grade coursework in their first year, ninth- and 10th-grade coursework the second year, and 11th- and 12th-grade coursework during the third.

There is an experiential portion of the curriculum that begins with class visits from ASU professors and trips to campus labs and local businesses. As students progress through the five-year program, they will select areas of interest to explore; sit in on ASU classes; pursue independent study under direction of experts in their chosen fields; and complete annotated bibliographies and research projects.

During their fourth and fifth years, the students will take coursework through ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and augment those studies through Barrett, the Honors College.

The Digital Culture Initiative, also supported by The Herberger Strategic Investment Fund, offers specially designed courses from across the Herberger Institute’s six schools as well as the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, the College of Technology and Innovation, the New College Division of Humanities, Arts and Culture Studies, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Using a customizable interactive course and path planner, students are able to map out their path to graduation based on their subject interests and long-term aspirations.

If a student, for example, with an interest or background in art and film would like to investigate interactive animation, they can design a multi-year educational path to allow them to graduate with a wide set of core proficiencies that employers like Pixar Animation Studios or Electronic Arts find appealing. If that student finds midway that their interests have changed based on a dance, engineering or education class, they are able to adjust their path to accommodate their new goals.

“The establishment of the Young Scholars Academy is a great achievement and one that may well serve as a model for other universities,” Crow said. “And The Digital Culture Initiative is an innovative program in the growing intersection of the fields of art, design and technology, both programs made possible by The Herberger Strategic Investment Fund.”

Jeanne Lind Herberger earned her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. She is a leading philanthropist who has supported education, community services and the arts. She is an influential advocate for the arts and among her many community activities, she recently was appointed as a life member of the Board of Trustees of the Phoenix Symphony.  

Gary Kierland Herberger, a long-time supporter of ASU’s College of Design, is president of Herberger Enterprises, Inc., a family corporation involved in land acquisition, and the planning and development of commercial, industrial and residential property. He has been a supporter of and advisor to ASU’s Master of Real Estate Development Program.

In 2000 the College of Fine Arts was named The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts in honor of Gary’s mother, arts philanthropist Katherine K. Herberger. In 2007, the name was changed to the Herberger College of the Arts to reflect the evolution of more traditional fine arts to diverse new media of expression and creativity.  In 2009 the College of Design was folded into Herberger, with the combined entity being renamed the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.  

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU takes lead role in accelerating solar energy advances

August 17, 2011

Engineering faculty will direct national research center supported by National Science Foundation and Department of Energy

Arizona State University will lead a new national Engineering Research Center (ERC) supported jointly by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Energy (DOE) to solve challenges to harnessing solar power in economically viable and sustainable ways.
The ERC for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies – or QESST – will be led by faculty from ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Christiana Honsberg Download Full Image

ASU researchers will work with colleagues at the center’s partner institutions – the California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Delaware and the University of New Mexico – to provide a staging ground for major innovations in solar energy devices and systems.

The NSF and DOE will jointly provide funding of $18.5 million for the first five years of the center’s operations.

The center’s mission includes accelerating commercialization of solar energy technologies through partnerships with industry and expanding opportunities for education in energy engineering.

Engineering Research Centers sponsored by the NSF focus on areas of research considered vital to national interests in science and engineering innovation, technological advancement, economic expansion and education of future innovation leaders.

Selection as a lead institution for one of these centers reflects exceptional regard for the expertise of a university’s faculty in such important areas of research.

QESST will be directed by Christiana Honsberg, a professor in ASU’s School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.  

“An expanding global economy is bringing an unquenchable demand for more electrical power.  It will become vital to progress throughout the 21st century to have the benefits of alternative energy sources that solar power can provide through photovoltaic technologies,” said Honsberg, who also directs ASU’s Solar Power Lab.

Collaboration between ASU and partner universities will be coordinated by Harry Atwater, a professor of applied physics at Caltech, who will serve as QESST’s research director.

ASU electrical engineering professor Sayfe Kiaei, former associate dean of research for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, will be QESST’s testbed leader, responsible for developing platforms for evaluating and testing new technologies. Matthew Fraser, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability, will be sustainability director.
Beyond enabling collaborations among university research teams, the center will bring universities, major energy companies, photovoltaics industry leaders and entrepreneurs together in partnerships.

“All members of the QESST leadership team have experience in industry, with start-up companies and with technology transfer from the lab to the marketplace,” Honsberg said.  

More than 40 companies have committed support for QESST, including major manufactures and companies that produce basic materials, photovoltaic devices and systems, and provide installation of solar energy technology.

The center’s efforts will also benefit from ongoing energy research and education collaborations with affiliate partners, including Georgia Tech, the University of Arizona, the University of Houston and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and international members, including the University of Tokyo, Imperial College London, and the University of New South Wales.

In addition, QESST will leverage the expertise of other ASU research strengths in centers pursuing advances in power systems and related energy fields. Those include the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC),  the Sensor, Signal and  Information Processing center (SENSip) and Connection One, a wireless communications center  – each of which is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center.

QESTT will also partner with the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems center, an NSF Engineering Research Center led by North Carolina State University, in which ASU is a partner institution.

Along with pursuing advances to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic devices for converting sunlight into electrical energy, researchers will develop new manufacturing processes to produce photovoltaic solar power systems at an unprecedented scale that can be integrated into the nation’s power grid for widespread energy distribution.

The center’s research and development advances will enable the photovoltaics industry to reach production levels sufficient to provide global-scale manufacturing of photovoltaic devices and systems.

The overriding goal of the endeavor is to enable photovoltaic technologies to be capable of supplying a majority of new electricity generation in the United States within a decade, as well as providing power for up to 1.5 billion people worldwide who now have little or no access to electrical energy.

The distinctive factor in the QESST endeavor will be in applying one of the greatest scientific advances of the 20th century – quantum mechanics – to development of  advanced photovoltaic technologies .

Quantum mechanics has revolutionized integrated electrical circuits that power computers and communications, enabling devices to be made smaller, more efficient and multi-functional. Ten years ago, cell phones made and received calls. Today, they take photos, surf the Internet and make automated payments.

QESST researchers will apply the same principles of quantum mechanics to developing energy generation systems that convert sunlight to energy more efficiently, and to the design of energy systems that can be integrated into homes and offices while also cleaning the atmosphere. Through this approach, QESST will seek to fundamentally alter how energy is used in the future, Honsberg says.

The key will be making innovations to photovoltaic systems while keeping costs at sustainable levels, she says.

A major impact of successfully developing the technologies to achieve that goal, Kiaei says, will be expanding opportunities for U.S.-based businesses to capture a large portion of the estimated future trillion-dollar global energy industry.

More widespread use of solar power also provides environmental benefits by reducing the need to burn fossil fuels for energy. More efficient manufacturing processes and more energy-efficient, high-performance photovoltaic devices and systems will also enable the country to better conserve natural resources, Honsberg says.

The center will assemble industry and science advisory boards, as well as an entrepreneurship investment council.

The boards will provide guidance in areas such as research performance, progress evaluation, commercialization strategies, and opportunities for new research and industry collaborations,  and other funding sources.

The council will seek support from investors to help market new technologies and intellectual properties generated by QESST, and advise the center’s leaders about new entrepreneurship possibilities.

A strong component of the center’s mission is to improve engineering education and expand the community that is engaged in energy research and education. This will entail developing research opportunities for undergraduates and teachers, research leadership roles for graduate students, programs to motivate middle school and high school students to study engineering and science, and enable them to participate in engineering research projects.

“QESST will provide students of all ages opportunities to be part of the future of solar energy engineering,” says Jenefer Husman, the center’s education director and an associate professor in ASU’s School of Social and Family Dynamics. “ASU and our partner institutions will help produce the next generation of sustainability-focused solar engineers.”

More information about QESST is posted on the center's website at www.qesst.org and on  an NSF website at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=121039&org=ENG&from=news

For more about the scope of solar-energy related research by Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering faculty, see “ASU engineers poised for progress in solar power quest.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering