University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson today announced the naming of the renewable energy program at the University in honor of the contributions of longtime NV Energy executive and Nevada alumnus Jeff Ceccarelli '76 (civil engineering), who retires this month after 40 years with the company.
The Jeffrey L. Ceccarelli NV Energy Renewable Energy Program will continue NV Energy's ongoing support of the University's renewable energy initiatives, including support for the University's Renewable Energy Center, workforce development efforts and online course development on renewable energy topics.
"NV Energy has donated more than $1.5 million to the University's renewable energy program over the past several years, helping to pioneer our efforts to become a leader in renewable energy development, education and outreach," Johnson said. "Their future support will continue this tradition in Jeff's name."
Ceccarelli began his career as an intern for NV Energy - then called Sierra Pacific Power Company - after he graduated from Sparks High School in 1972. At the University, Jeff played basketball for the Wolf Pack and continued to date his high school sweetheart, Rhonda, '83, '93M.A. (counseling and educational psychology), who was a Wolf Pack cheerleader. He and Rhonda were married during his sophomore year.
After graduation, NV Energy hired Ceccarelli as an entry-level engineer. As the company grew from a small, regional operation, into a large, statewide company, Ceccarelli and NV Energy continued to be champions of the University. The NV Energy Foundation has made major gifts to the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, renewable energy initiatives, scholarships and other programs. Ceccarelli is a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Board and an emeritus member of the Alumni Council. In 2009, he was honored as the Nevada Alumni Association's Alumnus of the Year.
"NV Energy and Jeff Ceccarelli have been a critical part of the growth of renewable energy education at the University," said Manos Maragakis, College of Engineering dean. "Their investments have helped the University take decisive steps to position itself at the forefront of renewable energy education. They have also helped the College of Engineering's pursuit of excellence and national prominence.
"We are able to offer a renewable energy minor to all students, an online graduate certificate in renewable energy, a new renewable energy track in electrical engineering, and state-of-the-art graduate education, including a renewable energy laboratory at the Redfield Campus," Maragakis added.
The University's interdisciplinary minor in renewable energy began in 2007, sparked by the partnership between NV Energy and the University. Lead by the College of Engineering, this program has the contributions of several other colleges within the University and is open to all students.
The 12-credit online graduate certificate in renewable energy is designed for engineers, business staff and managers, government regulators and others impacted by new policies and practices relating to renewable energy, and allows working professionals to study current issues in this diverse and growing field. Instructors are experts in their respective fields at Nevada and other research institutions.
As a lecturer at the Redfield Campus, Ceccarelli has seen firsthand the students' eagerness to learn about renewable energy.
"One of the most unique opportunities in my professional life has been leading NV Energy's support for renewable energy studies within the University," Ceccarelli said. "Renewable and green energy studies are definitely a draw for our campus, and the Redfield Campus has been a great venue for many of these courses."
Michael Yackira, president and CEO of NV Energy, said Jeff has been both an early champion of renewable energy efforts in the state, as well as a steadfast supporter of his alma mater.
"Jeff has been instrumental in establishing a strong relationship between NV Energy and the University," Yackira said. "With the support of the university in naming this program in his honor, we are expressing our gratitude for his many years of leadership and pursuit of progress in the field of renewable energy."