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Regional benefits seen as ISU’s new Energy Systems Technology and Education Center debuts

November 7, 2008

The new Energy Systems Technology and Education Center (ESTEC) at Idaho State University officially opened Nov. 7.

A press conference was held at 9 a.m. in the Barbara J. Marshall Rotunda at the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center, followed by a ribbon cutting at ESTEC, located in the newly renovated Industrial Crafts building.

Renovation of the ESTEC building began summer 2007, after the team of Idaho State University’s College of Technology, Idaho National Laboratory and Partners for Prosperity received grant funding totaling more than $2.5 million.

The College of Technology was one of 72 recipients receiving a President’s Community Based Job Training Grant through the Department of Labor and an Advanced Technological Education grant from the National Science Foundation.

ESTEC’s primary mission is to support the energy sector in offsetting the growing national shortage of energy systems technicians. It is expected to facilitate regional economic competitiveness, increased job growth and provide other new energy-related opportunities.

“ESTEC will be a cornerstone of Idaho State University’s growing role in educating skilled technicians to operate modern energy systems,” said ISU President Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D. “Just as Idaho is playing an increasingly important role in energy research, ISU is poised to educate the workforce that science, industry and government will need to succeed.”

ESTEC offers Associate of Applied Science degree programs in Energy Systems Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology and Energy Systems Electrical Engineering Technology, preparing students to enter the energy workforce. A third program, Energy Systems Mechanical Engineering Technology will begin in fall 2009.  

ESTEC's hands-on, laboratory-based curriculum has been validated by the power-generating industry. It is unique in that students are trained on a variety of electrical-generation sources, including fossil, nuclear and renewable.

Idaho National Laboratory has been an active partner in the Center's programs since its inception. It has given the Center access to private utility-sector organizations and technical expertise, provided technical support in developing the Center's curriculum and contributed curriculum developed within INL.

“Today's opening of ESTEC marks the start of a new chapter in the successful energy workforce development relationship between Partners for Prosperity, Idaho National Laboratory and Idaho State University,” said Richard Holman, deputy director for ESTEC and Energy Workforce Initiatives manager for INL, It further supports the goal of establishing southeast Idaho as a destination for energy research, development, education and training.”

“ESTEC offers a unique approach to educating students by providing the specific knowledge and skills needed in electrical power generation” explains R. Scott Rasmussen, ESTEC’s Executive Director. “The skills requirements have been developed in partnership with energy utilities and vendors to assure that program graduates enter the workforce with the precise skills required by industry and are ready to be productive energy systems employees.”

In addition, the well-instrumented, integrated laboratory setting allows students in the three Energy Systems degree programs to work alongside each other just as they would in industry. That provides a problem-solving dimension to instruction.

ESTEC will have a broad regional and national impact. Students will work in a hands-on laboratory and gain opportunities for applied industrial research, through which they can demonstrate and test existing and newly developed equipment.


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