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Villanova University’s College of Engineering Awarded $100K Keystone Innovation Starter Kit Grant

Grant funds new faculty in area of sustainable energy and research into renewable energy technology

Villanova, Pa., July 29, 2010 – The College of Engineering at Villanova University has secured a $100,000 Keystone Innovation Starter Kit (KISK) grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development which will be used to increase its capabilities in the area of sustainable energy and renewable energy technology research.

“We are thrilled to be selected for this KISK grant, which will allow us to offer our faculty and students new opportunities to explore alternative energy development and applications in the classroom and the laboratory,” says Dr. Alfonso Ortega, James R. Birle Professor of Energy Technology and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the College of Engineering.

KISK grants help Pennsylvania’s higher education institutions attract nationally-recognized talent in science and technology. The College will use its award to hire a new faculty member dedicated to teaching and research in the field of bio-mass energy technology development.

The addition of this new faculty member will allow the College to:

  • Launch a technology track within the College of Engineering’s new master’s degree program in sustainable engineering, which is among the first in the country
  • Develop a strong research program in sustainable energy to be supported by undergraduate and graduate students
  • Offer undergraduate electives for a concentration in energy technology
  • Grow the collaboration and impact of the Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering, of which alternative energy is a primary focus
  • Further participate in technology transfer activities, which bring university research to life through local  businesses and industry
  • Add new opportunities to the College’s current STEM education offerings, designed to help low- income middle and secondary school students improve their abilities in science, technology, education, and math subjects

The College of Engineering is one of only 10 institutions to receive KISK funding in 2010. Governor Edward G. Rendell announced the full list of winners at a press conference Thursday. Dr. Ortega was invited to speak to shed light on how this type of funding can yield benefits not just for academic institutions and students, but also for Pennsylvania’s business and industry communities.

The College previously received a KISK grant from the 2008 awards program, which facilitated the addition of Dr. Gang Feng, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, to the faculty. The grant also allowed Dr. Feng to build a laboratory with a state-of-the-art nanomechanical testing system. His research has resulted in patent development, collaboration with local businesses and universities, and additional grant proposals to the National Science Foundation.

In addition to KISK funding, the College has also been the recipient of Keystone Innovation Grant (KIG) funding in the past. The KIG program, now referred to as the IG program, complements the KISK program by facilitating technology transfer and entrepreneurial partnerships within Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ). Previous KIG funding has fostered strong working relationships between the College and Widener University, which benefits both students and businesses located within the Delaware County KIZ.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.