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New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering has received a $1.5 million award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2019 Regional Innovation Strategies program i6 Challenge. As one of only 26 recipients, NMSU will create the Innovation and Commercialization for Regional Energy Workforce.
“We could not be happier about this award,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “As part of our strategic plan, we’re working to facilitate the convergence of research and creative activity to address local and global challenges. With these funds, we’ll be able to make advances in clean energy in support of economic development right here in New Mexico.”
The I-CREW project is “a program focused on clean energy as an emerging economic opportunity to create and retain jobs, enhance commercialization and innovation, and foster regional connectivity. With the recent passage of the Energy Transition Act in New Mexico, this project is timely as the state positions itself to support a clean energy economy, a transition requiring job training and retraining, education and economic development, inclusive of rural, economically disadvantaged and Native American communities.”
“With this award, NMSU Engineering will play a pivotal role in the economic development of the region in the energy area,” said Lakshmi N. Reddi, College of Engineering dean. “We are one of the few engineering colleges in the nation to take a holistic view of research, teaching and service, in the context of economic development of the region and the nation.”
The funding for the project includes $750,000 from the U.S. EDA and $750,000 from in-kind support from various partnerships.
“The project was inspired by a desire to leverage NMSU expertise in energy efficiency, entrepreneurship, clean energy research and workforce development, particularly as the state begins moving toward a clean energy economy,” said Patricia Sullivan, College of Engineering associate dean for outreach and recruitment. “The goals of the project are to expand delivery of energy efficiency services to New Mexico businesses, develop a statewide clean energy roadmap, develop new courses and short courses to meet emerging clean energy jobs, and to create an Energy Sprint accelerator program for new business startups.”
For the I-CREW project, NMSU will utilize its resources throughout the state including communities, national laboratories and government agencies along with industry partners in the energy and business sectors. An objective of the project is to promote job creation through education, entrepreneurship, innovation and workforce development. NMSU’s Arrowhead Center will be a key partner for the College of Engineering involving entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.
I-CREW will strive to identify and accelerate clean energy technology integration and commercialization and develop a statewide clean energy workforce. Additional plans for the I-CREW project involve leveraging a state workforce study, led by New Mexico Workforce Solutions, to align clean energy business creation with New Mexico workforce needs.