Energy Academy at Purdue to inspire next generation of energy leaders

June 11, 2013  

Energy camp

Thirty students and teachers from high schools throughout Indiana attended the weeklong Purdue Energy Camp in 2012 to conduct research, tour laboratories and participate in hands-on activities. Here, the group tours the university's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories. (Purdue University file photo/Mark Simons)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue Energy Center in Discovery Park is gearing up for the second Energy Academy at Purdue, working in collaboration with utility giant Duke Energy Corp. to prepare the next generation of sustainable energy leaders.

With its focus on the STEM disciplines - science, technology, mathematics and engineering - the 2013 Energy Academy at Purdue will expose 70 middle school and high school teachers and students to hands-on activities and laboratories, leading research and innovations, entrepreneurship opportunities, and careers in energy.

The academy, which runs from Sunday (June 16) through June 22, will include a visit and inaugural talk on Sunday afternoon by Jim Rogers, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Duke Energy who took the helm following the merger between Duke Energy and Cinergy in 2006. His talk is titled "Shedding Light on America's Energy Future."

Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers 
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Participating teachers also will receive resources on energy and STEM education that they can incorporate into their school curriculums.

"Our goal for the Energy Academy at Purdue is to inspire teachers to communicate the importance of this relatively new and highly interdisciplinary area of scholarship in their classrooms," said Purdue Energy Center director Maureen McCann, a professor of biological sciences. "Just as importantly, we also hope to inspire students to consider one of the many fields relating to energy sciences and engineering in their educational and career goals."

The primary sponsor is the Duke Energy Foundation. Co-sponsors are Bowen Engineering, Purdue Energy Center, Faegre Baker Daniels, General Electric Co., Ivy Tech Community College, Kidwind Project, Laboratory of Renewable Resource Engineering at Purdue, National Energy Education Development Project, Nokero International Ltd., Renewable Energy Extension at Purdue, Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, Shell Energy and Siemens Energy Inc.

Participation is provided free of charge to the 38 participating students and 32 teachers. Teachers also will receive a $400 stipend.

"As Indiana's leading electric supplier, Duke Energy strongly encourages initiatives to increase education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Doug Esamann, president of Duke Energy Indiana. "We are proud to partner with Purdue University as they build on the success of last year's Purdue Energy Camp."

Event organizer Pankaj Sharma, managing director for the Purdue Energy Center, said the students and teachers, who are coming mostly from Indiana and parts of the Midwest, will be assigned to teams for daily activities, using STEM principles to formulate energy-related projects and hands-on research activities. They will tour a nearby wind farm, the nuclear reactor, and other research facilities and laboratories on campus, and engage in a policy debate on energy issues.

On the program's final day, each team will present results of their energy project to a panel of judges composed of professors and industrial sponsors. The judges will award certificates based on the merits of each presentation.

Participants will meet with some of the world's leading energy researchers, including Rakesh Agrawal, the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor in the School of Chemical Engineering; Jun Chen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Nathan Mosier, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering; William Hutzel, professor of mechanical engineering technology; Alexandra Boltasseva, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics.

In addition, there will be several speakers from industry to share industrial challenges and opportunities in energy development and deployment.

"The increased global demand for energy is creating a critical need for entrepreneurial problem solvers and intellectual leaders," Sharma said. "Targeting middle and high school teachers and students, Purdue aims to inspire teachers to communicate the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and energy scholarship in their classrooms."

The 70 students and teachers will stay in residence halls and eat at on-campus dining halls. During the noon and evening meals, guest speakers will address energy-related topics of current interest. They also will dine with professors and industry and government representatives, participating in open discussions about energy development issues and current events.

The academy is organized by the Energy Center, a center in Purdue's Discovery Park focused on advancing research and learning in pursuit of alternative energy sources to fossil fuels. The inaugural event last summer drew 20 students and 16 teachers from across the state.

The Energy Center is part of the university's Global Sustainability Institute, which was launched in Discovery Park to coordinate Purdue's research efforts in sustainability challenges such as climate change, energy, food security, the environment and water.

Media Contacts: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Lew Middleton, 317-838-1505, 

Sources: Maureen McCann, 765-496-1779,

Pankaj Sharma, 765-496-7452,

Purdue Energy Camp Video:

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