To become a leader in the production of renewable energy, Nevada will need to develop a workforce specially trained for this growth industry. A new $500,000 gift from NV Energy is enhancing UNLV's educational programs to help the state meet the challenge.
The gift - announced during the 2011 National Clean Energy Summit - will be used to augment existing graduate programs related to renewable energy, to support student outreach activities, and to fund four $26,000 graduate-level renewable energy assistantships
It will also support a new graduate certificate program in renewable energy. Such certification gives Nevada workers the opportunity to advance their skills, making them more competitive in the jobs market and Nevada more competitive in attracting new businesses.
"Solar and renewable energy is a key industry for diversification of the state's economy," said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. "Realizing this industry's potential, however, will require a highly skilled renewables workforce. Through support from industry partners like NV Energy, UNLV's research and education programs can help Las Vegas become a world center for production and deployment technologies."
Michael Yackira, President and Chief Executive Officer of NV Energy, said, "NV Energy is proud of this grant to UNLV and how it will be used to further our commitment to renewable energy studies in higher education."
The support from NV Energy builds on an educational partnership with UNLV that began in 2009 with a $500,000 gift to fund student scholarships and start a solar and renewable energy minor for university undergraduates. The minor, which already enrolls more than 100 students, complements existing degree programs in such fields as engineering, science, and public policy. It provides extra coursework in energy utilization, sustainable building design, and energy policy.
Students will also benefit from expanded internship opportunities with renewable energy-related organizations. Industry leaders will be brought in teach courses, host seminars and participate in a lecture series that will expose students to possible career opportunities in the industry
The partnership between UNLV and NV Energy extends beyond the classroom to include research collaborations with UNLV faculty. One recent partnership with the UNLV Center for Energy Research and Pulte Homes involves the development of a new home community in Northwest Las Vegas that incorporates energy efficient features and smart grid technology to cut residential energy use by more than half.