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May 17, 2010
By Mike Wolterbeek
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the University of Nevada, Reno a $1.2 million grant to develop and operate the National Geothermal Institute, a consortium of top geothermal schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Stanford University, the Oregon Institute of Technology, the University of Utah and possibly others as the program expands.
The national institute for geothermal science and technology will attract students, professors and industry professionals from around the country to learn everything from the basics to the latest in geothermal energy production with a series of short courses and other curriculum. The institute is envisioned to augment the University of Nevada’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy by providing relevant research and trained graduates for the geothermal industry.
"The University is a natural location for this new national institute since so much of the current U.S. geothermal production is centered in Nevada, and since the University is becoming a leader in discovering new technologies for exploration, production and development of geothermal resources,” Gina Tempel, associate dean of the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno, said.
For the past 20 years, the schools in the consortium have all been at the leading edge of geothermal research and education. Separately, no one institution has had the critical mass to have a geothermal degree program, so this new venture will effectively be the first university training program of its kind in the country, including industry collaboration to ensure specific expertise in geothermal can be developed.
The consortium is designed to transform and grow the national energy infrastructure to utilize America's vast geothermal resource base. It creates a centrally located, convening organization for developing and conducting geothermal instructional programs.
A series of eight one-week courses with additional field trips and a project is expected. Courses could include: Introduction to Geothermal Energy Utilization; Geothermal Business Principles; Public Policy, Permitting, and Environmental Issues; Exploration; Reservoir Engineering and Management; Power Plant Design and Construction and Direct Use.
The Redfield Campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, with its state-of-the-art classroom facilities, conference centers and laboratories, will serve as the Institute's hub.
The National Geothermal Institute will educate and train the next generation of scientists, engineers, plant operators and policy makers. There will be broad participation of faculty, staff and students from the consortium of universities, along with scientists and other professionals from industry and national laboratories.