Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has established an Energy Sustainability Project Center that will help to coordinate and support undergraduate student project work in all aspects of energy and across all areas of academic inquiry at WPI. The center will begin its operations on WPI's campus, and will initiate the process of establishing one or more off-campus collaborations with national laboratories and the energy industry.
"One of my first jobs is to help the rest of the world, as well as our colleagues here at WPI, learn more about the impressive range of energy-related work that is now going on," said Prof. John Orr, who leads the new project center.
Orr said the center will coordinate student projects with the many faculty research activities that range from "Smart Grid" design to energy storage to fuel cells. It will also foster WPI's distinctive approach to technical education that always considers the effects of technology on people. The center is organizing seminars that relate the broad aspects of sustainability to the immediate needs for a reliable, economical energy supply. Recent campus activities, such as Solar Decathlon China 2013 and the Electric Power Industry Symposium, are representative of efforts in which the new center will participate. WPI's new Architectural Engineering program will represent a key contribution to the wise use of energy, to complement activities involving energy production.
Since the WPI Task Force on Sustainability was formed in 2008, many activities have taken place to enhance both the sustainability of WPI itself and to embed the principles of sustainability in students' education. Faculty members have incorporated sustainability into many student projects and focused on various aspects of sustainability around the world. In the year 2012 alone, some 51 energy-related projects were completed at WPI. Topics of these projects range from those with a social focus to highly technical investigations.
The new project center, an outcome of recommendations from the Provost's Energy Task Force Report, will help develop an educational approach to prepare WPI students, developing an undergraduate minor, and degree program.