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NSF boosts alternative energy programs

April 19, 2007

ASU's Electronic Systems Department at the Polytechnic campus was awarded a $900,000 National Science Foundation grant recently to develop alternative energy programs and courses in conjunction with community colleges in Arizona and Texas.

Known as the Arizona-Texas Consortium for Alternative and Renewable Energy Technologies Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Project, ASU's Electronic Systems Department will partner with education, government and industry, including Austin Community College, Mesa Community College, Pima Community College, the state of Arizona, Austin Energy, Arizona Public Service, BP Solar, Georgetown Utility Systems, Global Solar Energy, Tucson Electric Power, Salt River Project, Southwest Gas and Trico Electric Cooperative Inc.

The ATE Project will help develop programs that better prepare and increase the number of students completing associate of applied science degrees, certificate programs and bachelor's degrees to meet the work force needs of the energy, transportation and electronic industries.

In addition, the ATE Project will create industry internships, provide training to improve the skills of the existing work force, offer professional development activities to teachers in grades 9-16, and serve as a nationwide and statewide public awareness vehicle.

ASU has started its efforts with the introduction of a new concentration in alternative energy technologies at ASU's Polytechnic campus. Beginning this fall, students will have the option of focusing on alternative energy technologies in the undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered by ASU's Electronic Systems Department.

All courses will have a practical component and will rely on project-based teaching methodology fostered at ASU's Polytechnic campus. In addition, students will have opportunities to conduct and participate in a wide spectrum of research projects.

With access to the Photovoltaics Testing Laboratory, one of three in the world, and fuel cell research on the campus, students will gain firsthand knowledge about various systems and how they work.

The program is expected to have a strong impact by galvanizing industry in Arizona with the common goal of providing a technical work force prepared to lead the state into an economy based on alternative energy sources, according to Lakshmi Munukutla, chair of the Electronic Systems Department and principal investigator on the grant.

“This ambitious, ground-breaking effort resonates favorably and powerfully with the rest of the technical community, demonstrates a commitment to make a true difference, and is consistent with the global vision of an alternative energy future and the role that ASU must play in this effort,” she says.

For information, contact Cheryl Roberts at (480) 727-1514 or visit the Web site