Engineering Dean Erick Jones, at his first State of the College address to faculty, laid out his vision for the College, including its role in the research, education and outreach of the lithium industry in the Truckee Meadows and beyond.
“I truly believe that we can drive the next generation’s ‘lithium valley’ in the state of Nevada through our College of Engineering,” Jones said, in a presentation earlier this month.
Lithium is a key component of the new generation of rechargeable batteries for mobile phones and electric vehicles, among other electronics and products.
“It is important to recognize that as we contribute to the professions and industries of our state, that there are environmental impacts of mining to the landscape and water resources that always must be considered as we develop partnerships with industry partners,” Jones said. “This is especially important when we look at history and realize there are environmental challenges and impacts to Native Land. Every Tribe is different and has different interests. We must consider these interests individually, and listen carefully to what these interests are, and how they relate to the future of mining in our state.”
Jones is hoping to capitalize on the proximity of lithium reserves as well as the industries that need the metal — such as Tesla and Panasonic, both of which have operations in Northern Nevada — to encourage research in the areas of electric vehicle batteries, semiconductors and critically mined materials. He also is committed to preparing the “engineers of the future” for these new and fast-growing industries. Already, the College offers a Batteries and Energy Storage Technologies Minor, believed to be one of the nation’s first, through the Chemical & Materials Engineering Department. Lithium is the next logical addition to the College’s outstanding programs and research portfolio, he said.
Engineers and Innovation
The College has two “products”: engineers and innovation. Jones, who took the reins of the College on Sept. 1, said he is committed to both the research and innovation that is expected of a flagship university and to the land-grant mission to provide outstanding education that serves the needs of Nevadans.
Dean Jones told the faculty at the State of the College address that later this month he will convene a group of top scientists, think tanks and national agencies, along with consulting company Grant Thornton, to develop a strategic plan for the College.