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 Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

FROM THE CHANCELLOR
 In the interest of fostering discussion on current campus topics, I'd like to share the following message from Provost Susan Avery.

"Carpe Vim" - Seize the Energy
By Susan Avery, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

You can't say enough – in fact, you can't get excited enough – about the waves of wonderment and applause the CU Renewable and Sustainable Energy Initiative is generating around the state and campus. We stand positioned to lead the nation and, indeed, the world in finding solutions to one of the planet's most vexing problems: the need for economically viable sources of renewable energy and for a society and an economy that thrives on the sustainable use of energy resources. Addressing the critical scientific, political and socio-economic challenges requires a combined approach of

  • innovation that develops revolutionary technology and social-economic strategies for sustainable energy use from interdisciplinary directed research;
  • entrepreneurship that provides rapid technology transfer and business opportunities; and
  • transformation that provides environmental, economic, security, and societal assessment in order to develop options that encourage the sustainable use of energy, and to provide interdisciplinary educational programs.

While many institutions are talking about the future of energy, few are as strategically poised to do something special. Colorado is in a region with large reserves of fossil fuels, promising circumstances for the production of biofuels as well as wind and solar power, and citizen support that requires the generation of a portion of electricity from renewable sources (Amendment 37). In addition, the state has a remarkable set of federal research laboratories in geographical proximity to CU, most notably the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which has principal expertise in hydrogen fuels, photovoltaic technology, bioenergy, and wind technology. Combine this expertise with the established energy research projects at CU-Boulder, existing individual collaborations with NREL, student interest and enthusiasm as winners of back-to-back winners in the DOE sponsored Solar Decathlon competition, and proven success in creating interdisciplinary partnership institutes and you can easily see the potential of this initiative.

The goals of the energy initiative are to:

  • Create a center (and eventually a Joint Institute) that will bring researchers from all fields together to address innovation, entrepreneurship, and transformation in energy development and use;
  • Establish partnerships and consolidate resources with NREL, nearby federal labs, other universities, and departments of state government;
  • Strengthen ties with entrepreneurs, businesses, and utilities that will deploy the knowledge our research generates;
  • Prepare funding proposals on a variety of topics to submit to federal and state agencies;
  • Develop an interdisciplinary research and graduate program to train future leaders and innovators;
  • Develop courses and learning experiences that will engage broad participation of undergraduates;
  • Foster community engagement and outreach that applies knowledge, technologies, and best practices to unmet needs.

Carl Koval, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has agreed to be the acting faculty director for the initiative. With many faculty who have helped set the formative stage of the initiative, Carl is developing materials explaining the initiative, including an energy Web site. His next steps include the development of widespread support for an institute and establishment of campus activities such as a town hall meeting in March, a campus lecture series, implementation of a joint CU/NREL workshop and seed grant competition, establishment of internal and external advisory boards, and an inventory of existing courses in energy.

With global energy demand predicted to double by 2050, with growing concerns about climate change and with the shaky international political situation, we must move forward now. The announcement of the American Competitiveness Initiative by President Bush, a welcome step forward, is an opportunity to accelerate our efforts to create the next economic success story for Colorado. A new university/federal/business partnership is the cornerstone of those efforts.


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From the Chancellor

"Carpe Vim" - Seize the Energy

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