UTC is one of 33 colleges nationwide and the only school in the state to win federal stimulus funds to help develop training programs to expand electric smart-grid technology.
Officials say the award puts the school on the cutting edge of the emerging technology.
"UTC's selection is an example of our leadership in the state," said Chuck Cantrell, spokesman for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. "We'll have a corner on being able to produce the states' leading experts in power-grid management.
"Not only is this a source of acclaim for our current programs," he said, "but it will allow our engineering and computer science programs to be (among) the most competitive in the country."
The $2.4 million in federal funding will be used by the university's engineering department to create high school programs and enhance college curriculum to teach students to use smart grids, an electronic technology that helps monitor power usage in appliances for cost and energy savings.
EPB now is working to deploy smart grid to its customers, and part of the UTC grant will be used to research lessons learned from EPB's project, said Will Sutton, engineering dean at UTC. Those lessons will help UTC students' training in engineering and computer sciences, he said.
"We congratulate UTC on their grant award and look forward to working with them on their new initiative," said David Wade, EPB's executive vice president of the electric system and chief operating officer. "The recent UTC award is certainly another example of how Chattanooga is quickly becoming a leading city for innovation and technology."
Funding also will be used to create a smart-grid lab in the college of engineering for teaching, researching and industry training needs, he said.
"It supports our college strategic goals of relevance and engagement with the technical community, like these utility partners," Dr. Sutton said. "The project helps us provide the very best training and education to our students and the regional workforce."
In total, the U.S. Department of Energy is awarding $100 million for programs that will train an estimated 30,000 Americans. These workers will help to modernize the nation's electrical grid by implementing smart-grid technologies across the country, a release from the U.S. Department of Energy stated.
"With these funds, UTC will be able to provide students with the knowledge and training necessary to obtain the jobs of the future," said state Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, in a statement. "Smart-grid technology will save energy and provide our nation with the infrastructure necessary to accommodate future generations, and Tennesseans will be a major part of making it happen."
WHAT IS SMART-GRID TECHNOLOGY?
A smart grid provides electrical power to consumers by using a two-way digital technology that controls appliances at consumers' homes to save energy and reduce cost. The technology is being promoted by the U.S. Department of Energy as a way to aid energy independence.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...