As a part of the Biden administration’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced five competitively selected higher education institutions to serve as Centers of Excellence for DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) Program and will receive a combined $18.7 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Also, DOE has announced a $54 million funding opportunity from the law to expand the IAC Program to community colleges, trade schools, and union training programs, and create new Building Training and Assessment Centers (BTACs) at higher education institutions.
“Strengthening and diversifying the pipeline for high-quality manufacturing and building efficiency jobs is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to create an economy that will allow our nation to reach its clean energy future,” says U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This is a direct investment in the next generation of American workers that will help ensure America’s global leadership in advanced manufacturing and green building technologies.”
Over more than four decades, the IAC Program has provided more than 20,000 assessments at small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs), which comprise more than 90% of the nation’s manufacturing base. IACs typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities for every manufacturer assessed. Today, DOE-supported IACs exist at 37 universities in 28 states across the country, with 17 of those institutions having participated in a pilot to provide similar assessments to small and medium-sized commercial buildings.
The new Regional Centers of Excellence will enhance and expand the IAC Program by serving as regional hubs for the program that collaborate and coordinate with government, nonprofit, labor, and industry actors to train clean energy workers and support small- and medium-sized manufacturers in each respective regions. Two of the five selectees, and seven of the partnering institutions, are Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI).
Each of the selectees will bring unique capabilities in strengthening the IAC network:
- Great Plains Center of Excellence at Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK), in partnership with Northern Oklahoma College, Wichita State University, and the University of Nebraska, will advance the IAC network’s use of technology-driven assessments – including through use of mobile applications, drones, and virtual/augmented reality. This center will also deepen the IAC network’s partnerships with community colleges and Tribal communities.
- Southeastern Center of Excellence at Georgia Tech University (Atlanta, GA), in partnership with Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, and Kennesaw State University, will draw on these universities’ internationally renowned expertise in energy management, industrial electrification, and complex assessments.
- Mid-Atlantic Center of Excellence at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA), in partnership with West Virginia University, will expand the IAC network’s engagement with unions, trade schools, and community colleges, and develop new assessment methodologies to better serve small manufacturers.
- Gulf Coast Center of Excellence at Texas A&M University (College Station, TX), a national leader in remote and hybrid assessments, will accelerate the IAC network’s growing emphasis on industrial decarbonization, electrification, and resiliency planning.
- Western Center of Excellence at San Francisco State University (San Francisco, CA), in partnership with San Jose State University, San Diego State University, Laney College, and Cuyamaca College – a group of five leading minority-serving institutions –will apply their expertise in data-driven tracking to evaluate and improve manufacturer performance, renewable energy, energy demand management, thermal systems design, and waste and water management to enhance manufacturing competitiveness across the Western U.S.
Learn more about each selection here.