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* Jordan Mader

Jordan Mader, who is part of Rensselaer's accelerated Ph.D. program, studies fuel cells in the Polymer Center. Photo by Kris Qua.

Fuel Cell Research
Developing Leaders

As part of its continued expansion of energy research, Rensselaer has launched a $4.8 million novel interdisciplinary program to train doctoral students in fuel cell science and engineering. The program is supported by a $3.2 million, first-of-its-kind fuel cell research education grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) combined with a $1.6 million investment by Rensselaer.

“Innovation is key to meeting our global energy needs, but it will require a science and engineering workforce prepared to focus on this urgent challenge. With fuel cells as a key component of a global energy strategy, this designation by the National Science Foundation positions Rensselaer to be a leader in developing the fuel cell technology innovators of the future,” says Provost G.P. “Bud” Peterson.

The program integrates a range of disciplines within and among engineering, science, and management. Beginning in the fall 2005 semester and over the course of five years, 28 doctoral students will have the opportunity to study fuel cell science and engineering focused on manufacturing, materials development, and modeling for design, manufacturing, and operation.

The funding will support full tuition and provide an annual $30,000 stipend for each student’s two-year research fellowship. NSF’s funding was awarded through their Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program.

“The fuel cell program at Rensselaer will allow doctoral students to develop specific expertise in a particular field, along with the breadth of knowledge in multiple fields to contribute effectively to interdisciplinary projects, and the entrepreneurial skills to develop products and companies,” according to Michael Jensen, professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, and project director of the program. “Upon completion of the program, we expect our students to create and guide interdisciplinary research and development projects and recognize opportunities for commercialization of that research.”

The Rensselaer team also will collaborate with faculty from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and an external advisory board of fuel cell industry leaders and university and government agency representatives.

“As the global demand for energy increases, it is crucial that we develop alternative and renewable energy sources,” says Omkaram “Om” Nalamasu, vice president for research at Rensselaer. “Rensselaer’s combination of research, education, and entrepreneurship provides novel opportunities to move new energy technologies from the lab to the market.”

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

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