Hogan, Williams Announce New Members of UConn’s Sustainable Energy Team

At the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on December 9, 2008, University of Connecticut President Michael Hogan – joined by Senate President Donald Williams – announced that the University of Connecticut has hired six top alternative energy researchers under the state’s 21st Century Jobs Act. Among the new energy leaders introduced was the new director of the Center for Clean Energy Engineering at UConn, Dr. Prabhakar Singh.

The 21st Century Jobs Act became law in 2006 and $4 million in state funding was provided to create a public-private partnership called the Eminent Faculty program, which has enabled UConn to recruit national experts in alternative energy technology. The program was designed to attract researchers skilled in commercialization and technology transfer to UConn to promote economic development and help foster a training ground for the 21st century energy workforce and entrepreneurs in the state. The program also allows UConn to purchase equipment for the research team laboratories.

The energy initiative is rooted in a partnership that comprises not only the state but also private industry. United Technologies Corporation, the Northeast Utilities Foundation and FuelCell Energy, Inc. contributed a combined $2 million as an industry match.

Dean of Engineering Mun Young Choi expressed his appreciation for the strong support of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CEF). “The CEF support demonstrates the state’s commitment to partnering with higher education and the private sector to invest in cutting-edge educational and research programs aimed at strengthening and advancing Connecticut’s technological leadership,” said Dr. Choi. The CEF funding, in the form of a $3.5 million challenge grant, was applied toward laboratory development, the establishment of the endowment for the lead Eminent Faculty researcher, and startup funding for the sustainable energy team to realize the goals of job creations, new business development and leading-edge research and development.

During the December 9 press conference, UConn President Michael Hogan said, “The Eminent Faculty program has given Connecticut the opportunity to provide national leadership in the development of sustainable and environmentally-sound energy alternatives. This new research team in sustainable energy will build upon the strength of UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering and bolster Connecticut’s emerging alternative energy industry. We owe a great deal of thanks to our elected representatives here as well as our generous corporate partners.”

“Connecticut has a proud history of innovation that has helped revolutionize our national and regional economies and improve the quality of life for its citizens: we are the birthplace of the Cotton Gin, the submarine and even rubber tires,” said Senator Williams. “Now it is our turn again. The Eminent Faculty program is planting the seeds of innovation that can help us achieve energy independence. Not only that, it will help Connecticut find its niche in the ‘green economy,’ enabling us to grow jobs and create wealth.” The initiative is also expected to help Connecticut meet the state’s goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption by 20% and replacing it with clean or renewable energy sources by 2020.

Story by Michael Kirk and Nan R. Cooper.