The strong growth in global demand for energy is projected to continue for the next half century and beyond will provide great opportunities for many Southwestern Pennsylvania based energy companies. However, there is the daunting backdrop of limited workforce supply and stagnated technology development that are consequences of industry downturns in the 1980s and 1990s. To help address these issues, a number of the regional companies recently worked with the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson school of Engineering and the Center for Energy to develop the following programs: (1) Introduction of new undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in Electric Power Engineering, Mining Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering. Over 1500 students have enrolled in these programs since they commenced in 2006 and 2007. (2) Research programs that tap into the expertise and capabilities of Pitt faculty and students to solve critical technological problems that these industries face.
With these programs, the Center for Energy is providing examples for the rest of the nation in terms of fostering technical advances, training a highly skilled workforce, and integrating university research with company needs for future growth. It is our goal to educate thousands of students including undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students in energy-related courses and research projects over the next two decades. These graduates will have an important impact on the continued energy leadership of this region. Moreover, such a student output will address a predicted shortfall in energy workers in the future. The results of a survey by the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) in 2008 showed that approximately 50% of all then-current employees will be eligible for retirement within 10 years. The survey also indicated that nearly 45% of the eligible retirement age employees may need to be replaced by as early as 2013.
Thus, the Center for Energy provides two important elements that are critical to earning a reputation for this region as an energy center: world-class intellectual capital on the academic side that is focused in a few key areas of energy research; and workforce development programs that will train high-level scientists and engineers to work in the energy fields that are important to the country's future. The intellectual and educational power provided through the Center for Energy can be the catalyst for the transformational change necessary to gain recognition for the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh region for its leadership in the search for energy independence and efficiency.
Technology Transfer For Economic Development
- Recently received more than 15 licenses, patents, or invention disclosures in energy technology
- Included technology for fuel cells, solar applications, hydrocarbon recovery, energy harvesting (RF and hydrokinetic), CO2 sequestration, and energy storage