Great Lakes Fuel Cell Education Partnership
Stark State College (North Canton, Ohio), with its academic and industry partners, was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to form a regional partnership dedicated to fuel cell technology education. The mission of the Great Lakes Fuel Cell Education Partnership is to provide leadership in creating innovative fuel cell-related education and training programs through curriculum development and enhancement; professional development; and partnerships with high schools, institutions of higher education, businesses and government entities. The purpose is to meet the future workforce needs of the fuel cell industry in the Region, including, but not limited to, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Indiana.
The partnership has developed a fuel cell and alternative energy website to serve as a clearinghouse for information that education professionals and others can use to learn and for sample curriculum content. The website offers links for business and industry as well as educational content for the classroom. For more information visit www.fuelcelleducation.org.
The Partnership’s goals are to: 1) Aggregate and evaluate innovative solutions for advancing fuel cell education and training in collaboration with high schools and undergraduate education entities, top research universities, business and industry, government agencies and professional societies; 2) Research and define essential technical skills to advance workforce development in fuel cell-related technologies and promote the creation of additional jobs; and 3) Serve as a clearinghouse to share proven curriculum materials and foster public understanding of fuel cell technologies, the hydrogen-related economy and the importance of developing alternative energy sources.
Stark State College has been joined in this effort by education institutions in Ohio, New York, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Ohio partners include the Ohio Department of Education, Hocking College and Kent State University. New York is represented by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Hudson Valley Community College; Michigan, by Kettering University; Indiana, by Oakland City University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Pennsylvania, by Penn State University; and Tennessee by University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Fuel cell industry, business and government organizations include, but are not limited to, Plug Power Inc. and ENrG Inc. in New York; GM-Powertrain, Lockheed Martin, LG Fuel Cell Systems Inc. and Graftech in Ohio.
The intellectual merit of the Partnership is to advance workforce development, curriculum enhancement, information dissemination and public understanding of emerging fuel cell power technologies. Stark State College is a member of the Ohio Fuel Cell Corridor which provides a strong infrastructure and significant access to resources from the State of Ohio and business partners to marshal efforts, encourage innovation and accelerate commercialization for the fuel cell industry. Stark State College received $3.35 million from Ohio’s Third Frontier initiative to build a Fuel Cell Prototyping Center on its campus. Grants from the Ohio Board of Regents, Ohio legislature and the College totaling $1.4 million also funded construction costs. Additional grants from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education provided an additional $926,586 to equip the facility and provide workforce training. In 2004, the College received $780,000 from the NSF-ATE program to fund developing model fuel cell curricula for high schools and two-year colleges. Altogether, the College has raised more than $15.4 million for its fuel cell initiative, clearly, demonstrating its committed to fuel cell technology advancement activities.
Broader impacts: The Partnership is designed to be industry-driven through participation of employers on the Partnership’s Advisory Board and outreach efforts. The dissemination of the results and products will take place through the Partnership’s website, as well as print and electronic materials distributed at conferences and workshops presented by the Partnership, other national and regional conferences related to fuel cell technology and at demonstrations sites. The Partnership’s website will have a searchable database to facilitate access to materials as well as links to other referenced websites. In order to increase dissemination capabilities, links will be made to other NSF centers and projects that have fuel cell information or learning objects. The Partnership’s activities are focused on the Great Lakes Region where minorities overall represent 20% of the population (U.S. Census Data) but is much higher in industrial urban areas. Ohio, the lead state for the regional collaboration, is located within 600 miles of two-thirds of the U.S. population. Moreover, the region has suffered tremendous losses in traditional manufacturing jobs and providing training and retraining opportunities in this area will certainly promote diversity in the technical workforce. The project will have focused efforts on population segments having low employment and education in sciences, including women, disadvantaged minorities and the economically disadvantaged.