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DOE Announces Over $30 Million to Help Universities Train the Next Generation of Industrial Energy Efficiency Experts

June 16, 2011

Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the availability of more than $30 million to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing efficiency to help them become the nation's next generation of industrial energy efficiency experts. Through the Industrial Assessment Center program, university teams across the country will gain practical training and skills that will enable them to conduct energy assessments in a broad range of manufacturing facilities and help them compete in today's economy. These groups of student engineers will help local companies and factories to reduce energy waste, save money, and become more economically competitive.

"Through this industrial efficiency training program, students will gain hands-on experience and training for jobs in a growing global sector, while at the same time, reducing energy waste for American businesses and helping to make our manufacturing facilities more competitive," said Secretary Chu. "This program will make sure that the next-generation of American workers has the education and skills they need to further our transition to a clean energy economy."

Through these university-based Industrial Assessment Centers, engineering students will receive extensive training in industrial processes, energy assessment procedures, and energy management principles, which will be put to use working directly with small and medium-sized industrial and manufacturing facilities around their communities. Under this funding opportunity, each Industrial Assessment Center will be expected to train at least 10 to 15 students per year, conduct approximately 20 energy assessments annually, and perform extensive follow-on reporting, tracking, implementation, and management-improvement activities.

Under this competitive funding opportunity, 20 to 30 universities will be selected as Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) and will be eligible to receive $200,000 to $300,000 per year for up to 5 years for the training and energy audits. Applicants are encouraged to propose innovative methods to better ground students in core engineering, energy, and business principles and increase their understanding of management systems, industrial technologies, supply chains, energy efficiency, and sustainability. In addition to conducting assessments at industrial plants, IACs will be expected to promote interaction with private sector partners that could provide valuable workforce development support, such as scholarships and internship opportunities. Applications are due by Tuesday, August 2, 2011. More information and application requirements can be found on the FedConnect website.

The Industrial Assessment Program has had a rich history of training students and performing energy assessments for small-to-medium manufacturing plants for more than 30 years. Nearly 3,000 students have graduated from the Industrial Assessment Center program and more than 60% have gone on to careers in the energy industry. From the program's inception in 1976 through 2009, the university teams have conducted nearly 16,000 energy assessments at U.S. manufacturing plants nationwide. These assessments have helped save over 500 trillion BTUs of energy – equivalent to the energy consumed by 6.8 million vehicles in a year – and have helped participating manufacturers save more than $3.8 billion in energy costs.

DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) works to contribute practical solutions for some of the nation's top energy challenges through a combination of transformative research and development and targeted education and assistance in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. For more information, please visit the ITP website.