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Center Receives Grant to Launch Catawba Energy Corps

08/12/10 by Juanita Teschner 

The Center for the Environment at Catawba College has received a $184,000 grant from the N.C. Energy Office’s Student Energy Internship and Fellowship Program to launch the Catawba College Energy Corps.  

It was one of 23 private businesses, public agencies and public and private universities to receive a combined $5.6 million from the N.C. Energy Office for the program, which was funded with money from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

The grant to the Center will be used to facilitate the placement of as many as 17 students or recent graduates in on-the-job internships and fellowships. The individuals, who will be selected from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, will work with businesses and organizations in the energy sector that are considered to be at the forefront of the state’s transition toward sustainability. The partnering organizations are located in western and Piedmont North Carolina. 

“This program has great potential not only for the students in the program but also for our state,” says John Wear, the Center’s executive director. “We are most grateful to the N.C. State Energy Office for funds that will allow us to offer these invaluable learning opportunities.

“We believe the project will lead to opportunities for more permanent employment in the field for these students,” Wear says. “This, in turn, will enhance our state’s efforts to build and retain the talent base of renewable energy professionals necessary to support a thriving green economy.”

The Catawba Energy Corps will facilitate the placement of interns and fellows with 11 partnering green energy-related business and organizations: Calor Energy Consulting in Charlotte, Southern Energy Management in Morrisville, TectaAmerica Carolinas in Indian Trail, Sundance Power Systems in Weaverville, Beaver Brothers in Salisbury, Catawba College, gDwell, Inc., in Charlotte, O2Energies in Cornelius, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, Centralina Council of Governments in Charlotte and Davidson County Community College in Mocksville.

“The diversity of partnering businesses and organizations reflects the equally diverse needs and roles to be filled as we seek sustainability in energy,” says Dr. Rick Stephens, Catawba College provost. “This means we ultimately need both broadly informed generalists, as well as professionally prepared specialists to address the host of social, economic and technological challenges before us.  This is clearly at the heart of Catawba College’s mission and the Center for the Environment’s particular role in this region.” 

Fellows in the program must have completed either an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree within the past three years. They will be employed 40 hours a week for a minimum of one year. Interns must have completed or be enrolled in a degree program. The number of hours and duration of their assignment will vary, depending on their course load.

Both the fellows and the interns will help facilitate reductions in energy consumption, which will favorably impact air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. They will help implement recommended measures like increased efficiency, conservation and a shift to renewable energy resources and systems.

“This grant expands our ability to educate the energy leaders of tomorrow,” says Jay Laurens, the Center’s director of resource development. “We couldn’t be more pleased.”

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