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Virginia Tech Task Force Focuses on Energy


BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 7, 2006 – Virginia Tech has created a “Deans’ Energy Task Force” to foster energy scholarship, learning, and outreach. Brad Fenwick, vice president of research, announced the creation of the task force. “Virginia Tech has many initiatives underway that have potential to make knowledge-based contributions to the needs of our nation and the world,” he said.

The task force plays a key role in implementing the university’s strategic plan initiative dealing with energy, materials, and environment, one of four broad areas of discovery that recognizes Tech’s strengths and its ability to address societal needs.

The task force has been active through the summer and has just completed a survey of research, education, and outreach activities related to energy in the areas of policy, economy, infrastructure, the environment, efficiency, fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources. “We are cataloging activity ranging from business models to new technologies,” said Jack Lesko, professor of engineering science and mechanics, who also serves as a faculty administrative fellow in the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR).

Richard Hirsh, director of the Consortium for Energy Restructuring, is also an Office of the Vice President for Research fellow providing administrative support for the energy task force. Hirsh is professor of history and science and technology in society at Virginia Tech.

The task force is planning a year-long series of events highlighting Virginia Tech’s energy research capacity and its potential contributions to the state and beyond. It will begin officially in late September or early October with the Deans’ Forum on Energy and Sustainability, which will highlight the work already being performed by university faculty members and students. It will also help researchers connect with others in a way that may encourage increased interdisciplinary work and broader-based studies. “Given the complexity and interrelated and interacting nature of energy research and policy, the goal is to foster the creation of robust internal partnerships to strengthen and expand energy scholarship, learning, and outreach,” said Fenwick.

This first forum will also feature speakers from the Department of Energy, who will describe national initiatives and resources, and other government officials.

The task force will assist in another forum in November that will encourage economic development and promote the use of novel technologies to produce energy and energy efficiency. Ted Settle and Chad Miller of the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development will head this forum.

“We want to engage people from on and off campus to stimulate new research and interdisciplinary collaboration and form partnerships,” said Lesko.

A web site is planned to provide information on events and resources. In the meantime, reach Jack Lesko at 540-231-5259 or Richard Hirsh at 540-231-5601.