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USDA Awards $700,000 Grant To Ag, Industrial Sciences

Oct. 2, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May, Robert Lane

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A USDA grant awarded to SHSU's agricultural and industrial sciences department is expected to impact secondary and post-secondary students throughout the state, as well as develop an industry-driven, sustainable energy study specialization at SHSU. — Photo by Brian Blalock


Sam Houston State University’s Department of Agricultural and Industrial Sciences has been awarded a $700,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to implement a sustainable energy education network in agriculture.

Professor of agricultural education Doug Ullrich is the project director, and he, along with professors Robert Lane, of agriculture, and Faruk Yildiz, of industrial technology, will lead the SHSU effort.

Joined by faculty from Houston Community College and staff at the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas, they plan to create a multi-faceted model involving a secondary and post-secondary education pipeline that enables workforce growth in the sustainable energy sector while increasing the capacity at SHSU to offer state-of-the-art technical knowledge and experiences for agricultural sciences students pursuing a degree.

“Through the work of our ag engineering technology and industrial technology professors and their establishment of the biofuels lab and sustainable energy mobile educational lab, our department has demonstrated its leadership in teaching sustainable energy applications,” said Ullrich. “I think that played a major role in our being awarded this grant over the many other proposals that were submitted.”

Yildiz currently uses a retrofitted trailer to offer renewable energy workshops in rural area schools and teach renewable technology to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

“Not only do we want to expand our curriculum to include cutting-edge instruction in solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels and other sustainable energy sources, but by working with both science and agriculture teachers at the secondary level, we will introduce sustainable energy concepts and practices to those that will comprise a portion of our nation’s future workforce, ” said Yildiz.

A primary goal of the grant is to provide a training curriculum for Texas high school teachers that will enhance their students’ understanding of sustainable energy concepts while enforcing STEM comprehension.

The project also aims to create a degree pathway at SHSU in sustainable energy applications that will include integration of concepts within current agriculture courses such as biofuels and crop management, as well as develop new agriculture and industrial technology courses and interdisciplinary courses.

“It is envisioned that the project will impact 3,000 rural Texas high school students and thousands of community college students throughout the state, as well as develop an industry-driven, sustainable energy study specialization at SHSU with the Department of Agricultural and Industrial Sciences, which currently has more than 1,200 majors,” said Lane.

A number of activities will take place within the development of the project, including workshops, energy audits, production of power devices, technology demonstrations, and other programs.



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