Wednesday, March 16, 2005
OU receives $50,000 Education Grant Award
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
NextEnergy, the state-run organization aiming to make Michigan a leader in alternative energy technologies, recently announced that Oakland University was among six higher education institutions to receive Education Grant Awards.
OU received $50,000 from NextEnergy for developing a proposal to implement an alternative energy technology curriculum.
“We are developing a professional certification through OU and NextEnergy to bring the automotive folks up to speed on alternative energy,” said Patrick Dessert, associate professor of engineering and director of the Product Development and Manufacturing Center at OU. ”The implications of what alternative energy does are going to be felt by everyone.”
Dessert, along with OU Energy Manager Jim Leidel and lead grant investigator Chris Kobus, assistant professor of engineering secured the grant by developing a unique alternative energy education program.
The program in development will consist of three two-day classes in fundamentals and electric vehicles, fuel cells and hybrid integration. The program is scheduled to start at the end of May, with classes turning over once every 4-6 weeks. Dessert’s goal is to have 100 professionals certified by the end of the year.
“This is something that’s too important for us to fall behind in,” Dessert said.
OU recognized the importance of this type of program and worked with NextEnergy to create it even before the grant competition was announced.
“We are looking forward to doing other things with NextEnergy in the future and this is where it starts,” Dessert said.
In refining the program, Dessert plans to work closely with those in the auto industry and make sure the curriculum is valuable to professionals.
“This grant is our first real formal thrust out there and we are showing everyone how we are going to help the school, the state and the auto industry,” Dessert said.
OU has been exploring alternative energy for some time. Dessert, for one, has experimented with turning trash into fuel as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels. He also has created a hybrid electric vehicle that will be driven to South Carolina on 10 gallons of gas. Dessert and Leidel have been working on developing bio-diesel to power a car. Leidel also spearheaded the efforts to obtain a federal grant to have solar panels installed on the University Student Apartment Community House.
Dessert is trying to build interest in alternative energy among students as he sees it being important to them in the future. So important, in fact, that he wants to work toward developing a degree program and this certification program is just the start.
“This program will show alternative energy education as being useful and meaningful in the professional environment,” Dessert said. “We have to do this for our students.”
Henry Ford Community College, Lawrence Technological University and Wayne State University also received $50,000 grants from NextEnergy, while Lansing Community College received $46,000 and Kettering University received $44,000.
For more information on OU’s alternative energy and energy management programs, visit the Energy Management Web site.