Meeting the growing demand for a skilled work force in the New Energy Capital and researching emerging technologies is a mission of epic proportions, and that’s exactly what EPIC, the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center at UNC Charlotte, intends to accomplish.
“EPIC will transform the future of our energy work force and job development across this growing region,” says Dhiaa Jamil, the Duke Energy executive who chairs EPIC’s industry advisory board. “It will be a resource for engineering students from many universities and colleges and a national resource for the development of cutting-edge technologies that continue to shape the energy industry.”
Duke is providing approximately $4.5 million in support of EPIC, a collaborative effort uniting industry and academia. Siemens, which has consolidated production of gas turbines in Charlotte, has pledged about $4.3 million. Duke’s and Siemens’ support will provide engineering scholarships, advance EPIC’s research in Smart Grid and precision manufacturing technologies, provide students with access to large-scale manufacturing equipment and help recruit key faculty members.
The energy industry faces a work-force shortage at the same time the need to build new generating facilities is growing. Demand for power in the United States is expected to grow 40 percent by 2030. EPIC will encourage more energy businesses to consider growing in the Charlotte region, says Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership. Charlotte USA is known as the New Energy Capital because of more than 250 energy-oriented organizations and more than 27,800 energy-oriented employees in its 16 counties.
“A research university produces good ideas and good people. Both are essential for sustainable economic development," Bryant says. "Aligning corporate work force and research needs with our university like this says something about the character of our region as an energy hub. It makes our region even more attractive to new energy firms.”