The University of Maryland and its Atlantic Coast Conference partners, including Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, will lead a new, conference-hosted Clean Energy Business Challenge launching in the fall of 2011, encouraging students throughout the conference and the entire southeast United States to develop successful business plans and to create a new generation of American clean energy companies.
Funded by $2 million from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the ACC Clean Energy Challenge is one of six regional winners selected by the DOE to be part of its inaugural nationwide network of student-focused clean energy business creation competitions over the next three years. The first national grand prize competition will be held during the summer of 2012 in Washington, D.C.
"By promoting innovation at our nation's universities and cultivating America's next generation scientific and technical leaders, we will ensure our nation's competiveness in the clean energy economy of tomorrow," says DOE Secretary Steven Chu. "The awards announced support the [Obama] administration's continued effort to ensure that America has the workforce we need to secure our energy future, create jobs here at home, and win the future."
The ACC Clean Energy Business Challenge combines the technology, business, and student strengths of all the ACC schools in the Southeast region, including Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
Together, these schools conduct more than $4 billion in cutting-edge research each year, with clean energy a clear focus. ACC schools are also home to hundreds of student researchers in the energy field and numerous student energy clubs.
"At Virginia Tech, we have an international reputation in the hybrid electric vehicle development, winning the international competition, EcoCAR, in 2011. We are also world leaders in clean coal technology and among the top ten departments in environmental engineering that focuses on many clean energy efforts," says Richard C. Benson, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering and who holds the Torgersen Chaired Professorship. "I believe our ACC partnership in clean energy will prove to be beneficial to the economic competitiveness of our nation."
"This effort will help Virginia Tech build on assets like its corporate research center, VT KnowledgeWorks, and current successful startups in the region by Hokie alumni, i.e. TORC, VPT Inc., and PowerHub Systems, to develop programs and academic focus that will prepare the next generation of technology leaders and entrepreneurs," says Jack Lesko, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Virginia Tech's College of Engineering.