Secretary of Energy Announces Great Plains Center of Excellence at OSU

Photo: Oklahoma Governor's Office

A big announcement at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff visited Oklahoma State University to announce the creation of the Great Plains Center of Excellence.

The new center — which will be housed within OSU’s Industrial Assessment Center in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology - is one of five competitively selected higher education institutions to serve as Centers of Excellence for DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers Program

The new regional 'Centers of Excellence' will expand a Department of Energy program that works with employers to train clean energy workers and identify ways to reduce energy and save money. Granholm says it's part of a 'grand' strategy to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

“[OSU’s Industrial Assessment Center] is one of 37 Industrial Assessment Centers that we have through funding with the Department of Energy,” Granholm said. “And the thing that is so important is that it does give students this hands-on ability to see technology in action to see how to reduce the carbon emissions price of energy, reduce energy use on-site, and that is so critical for what we want to do in both attracting and retaining engineering students, making sure that those students see in themselves a future in reducing Co2 emissions and in reducing energy use and in generating clean energy into the future. … And it's those innovative technologies that are being used right here that caught our eye. And so today, I am proud to announce that we are awarding nearly $19 million to five universities who will host new IAC Centers of Excellence, including the Great Plains Center of Excellence right here at OSU.”

Of the combined $18.7 million in funding slated for the five new centers, the GPCoE has received a nearly $7 million funding award. That funding will directly impact the center’s ability to conduct industrial assessments aimed at helping clients reduce energy usage and increase productivity, while educating the next generation of energy, waste and productivity professionals using next-generation, integrated tools and technologies, such as smartphone apps, drones and virtual/augmented reality.

The GPCoE will also focus on developing interactive learning environments for teaching, training and workforce development activities through an interactive virtual curriculum for IAC personnel, manufacturers and employees, and university and community college students. 

The creation of the GPCoE will allow OSU to further its land-grant mission to address society’s most pressing challenges through innovative, world-changing research. 

“As the largest university system in the state of Oklahoma, part of our land-grant mission is to be an economic growth engine and to deliver cutting edge research that benefits our state, our region and our nation,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “And this award for the Great Plains Center of Excellence certainly supports our land-grant mission and will further propel our efforts to solve society's most pressing challenges.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Sen. Tom Duggar, Rep. Trish Ranson and Dr. Hitesh Vora — OSU Industrial Assessment Center director and principal investigator for the new center of excellence grant — were also on hand to celebrate the momentous announcement, which Stitt praised as another positive milestone for OSU and the state.

Secretary, we're so excited that you're in Oklahoma and you're investing in the state of Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “We really appreciate your leadership on everything energy, and especially renewables and hydrogen. And congratulations to Oklahoma State University for this award.”

“You know, Oklahoma has an all-of-the-above energy approach. We're so proud of our oil and gas industry. And what most people don't realize is we're also No. 2 in the country in wind energy, and we produce about 65% more energy than we consume. We're a net exporter of that energy. And we're one of only four states that over 40% of our energy comes from renewables. And that's why Google's largest data center is located in the state of Oklahoma and a lot of companies are looking to Oklahoma because of our affordable, reliable energy grid.”

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