RIT Student Government President Signs Congressional Letter to Support Energy Education

More than 100 student-body presidents send pleas to local representatives

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A. Sue Weisler

Matt Danna

More than 100 university and college student-government presidents submitted a letter recently urging Congress to launch a national program for clean-energy science and engineering education. The presidents—including Matt Danna from Rochester Institute of Technology—warned Congress that advanced energy education is critical for U.S. leadership in the global clean- energy industry.

“The United States is rapidly falling behind in the burgeoning clean-energy industry —especially in comparison to China—and our educational system and workforce is not prepared to compete,” declared the 107 presidents. “American students are ready and willing to rise to this national challenge, and we need the federal government to support our education and training.”

The letter, organized by Americans for Energy Leadership and the Associated Students of Stanford University, calls on Congress to support the RE-ENERGYSE (Regaining our Energy Science & Engineering Edge) proposal, which would invest tens of millions of dollars annually in energy science and engineering education programs at universities, technical and community colleges, and K-12 schools. It was originally proposed by President Obama in 2009 and is currently under consideration in Congress as part of the Department of Energy’s 2011 budget request.

“The RE-ENERGYSE campaign represents a significant push towards keeping clean energy education programs in our schools and universities,” says Danna. “In order for the United States to remain a leader in the areas of sustainable technology and clean energy resources, we need to be able to recruit and properly train the next generation of scientists and engineers. It’s those individuals who must be prepared to lead our country in these endeavors. This proposal is an investment in our country’s future—and that of our world. As student government president for one of the most prestigious technical, and sustainable, universities in the world, I proudly signed my name to the list of those who support this proposal.”

Foreign countries are producing substantially larger portions of scientists, engineers and researchers that will benefit their clean-energy industries. According to the National Science Board, science and engineering make up only about one-third of U.S. bachelor’s degrees, compared to 63 percent in Japan, 53 percent in China and 51 percent in Singapore. “The U.S. ranks behind other major nations in making the transitions required to educate students for emerging energy trades, research efforts, and other professions to support the future energy technology mix,” states the Department of Energy’s RE-ENERGYSE proposal.

For more information about the RE-ENERGYSE proposal and to view a PDF version of the student-body presidents’ letter to Congress, visit leadenergy.org and click on the RE-ENERGYSE link.