Santa Clara University receives US$1.3M gift to fund research in the renewable energy field

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Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering received a generous gift from an anonymous alumnus and his wife totaling US$1.3 million. The funding will go towards the launch of the Latimer Engineering Scholars Program, which beginning in the 2011 – 2012 academic year will sponsor teaching and research in the sustainable energy field.

“This is the first substantial donation to our energy program following our successes in the 2007 and 2009 Solar Decathlon competitions,” says Godfrey Mungal, Santa Clara University School of Engineering dean. “It comes at a very exciting time for us as we begin celebrating our 100th anniversary and a century of engineering excellence here at Santa Clara University. Energy is a prime focus for us as we move into the next 100 years of educating leaders of integrity to solve the world’s most challenging problems and we are so appreciative of this gift that will, we hope, be just the start of more support for this important program.”

Tim Healy, electrical engineering professor and Latimer Engineering Scholar Program director, has outlined a plan that will see him working with a selected five incoming freshman engineering students. Throughout their career at Santa Clara, each student will be assigned laboratory projects, which will give them an education in renewable energy with a particular focus, initially, on photovoltaics.

“The objective is to develop highly-educated undergraduate students in photovoltaics and renewable energy,” says Healy. “We hope to have among the best educated students in the country in this area.”

The five students will each receive stipends for working in the lab and on the PV projects, with each new academic quarter presenting new education, projects and materials. As the five freshman advance in their college career, the projects will become increasingly more sophisticated and they will have the opportunity to mentor younger students in the program.

Aside from educating students in the renewable energy field, the program is designed to help develop contacts with companies and professional in the renewable energy field through summer internships. “After students spend a year or two in the program, they will be able to pursue internships in places such as the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, solar technology companies like SunPower in San Jose, CA and perhaps one of the light-emitting-diode companies in the Silicon Valley,” concluded Healy.

Healy co-founded the Latimer Engineering Lab with Professor Samiha Mourad in 2008 with the ultimate goal of educating undergraduate and graduate students about renewable energy.

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