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Kettering University, “Walking the Walk” on Alternative Energy Research and Education

You can hardly turn on your television these days without hearing someone talking about alternative energy or “clean energy”. Whether your interest in clean energy is environmental or economical, most people would agree that this is one of the hottest topics of our day.

Kettering University is doing more than just talking about alternative energy; they are doing something about it. Kettering students and alumni are working on everything from advanced battery technology to turning pond scum into a renewable energy source.

The focus on renewable energy is not a new thing at Kettering; the university has been involved in this effort for several years and currently hosts the Kettering Center for Fuel Cell Systems and Powertrain Integration and the Flint Center for Energy Excellence.

The university offers a pre-college program in Sustainable Energy named “Get Energized”; this program explores everything from nuclear to solar, fuel cells to wind power, and even something called biogas. What is biogas you ask? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the bacterial decomposition of organic wastes and used as fuel. The program includes sessions on biogas production and utilization in transportation (vehicle conversion to bio-fuel) and power generation.

Students at Kettering University who are enrolled in an engineering or science discipline can select from undergraduate and graduate level specialties in Alternative Energy as well as Fuel Cells and Hybrid Technology. Students have the opportunity to take courses in Fuel Cell Science and Engineering, Energy and the Environment, Bio and Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Propulsion.

Collaborating to Educate Michigan’s Future Workforce

In August 2009, Kettering received $500,000 of a $2.5 million grant from federal stimulus money awarded to the University of Michigan (U of M). Kettering will be working in collaboration with U of M to create 20 courses on hybrid electronics, batteries and green power. About half of the classes will be taught at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with others being taught at U of M’s Dearborn campus and Kettering University’s Flint campus. Two laboratories will be developed to support graduate and undergraduate courses. This funding will also allow Kettering to upgrade the teaching of three currently existing hybrid vehicle/power electronics courses and develop two new hybrid vehicle courses.

Both Kettering and the Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses of the University of Michigan are inter-connected by fiber-optic cable to Merit’s network, allowing for fast and dependable network traffic between the three campus locations.

Developing Fuel Cells at the “Center”

The Center for Fuel Cell Systems and Powertrain Integration is housed in the C.S. Mott Engineering and Science Center in Flint, Michigan. The “Center” was created to serve as a leader in the development of fuel cells by providing faculty and engineering students, manufacturing suppliers and consortium partners with the ability to conduct leading-edge fuel cell systems research, testing, evaluation, and to educate the next generation in fuel cell technology. The center currently collaborates with several universities and organizations in the development of world-class fuel cell engineering curricula for pre-college, undergraduate and graduate engineering students.

The Flint Center for Energy Excellence

The most recent investment in Kettering’s alternative energy efforts came on February 18, 2009 when Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm presented a check for $951,500 to Kettering University for the Flint Center for Energy Excellence’s Swedish Biogas Project. The Center and the project are a unique partnership between Kettering University, the City of Flint and Swedish Biogas International. The Flint Center for Energy Excellence is currently housed in the C.S. Mott Engineering and Science Center on the Kettering campus.

The Flint Center for Energy Excellence was one of three “Centers for Energy Excellence” announced by Governor Jennifer Granholm in September of 2008. According to the Governor, the “Centers of Energy Excellence will enable innovative companies doing cutting-edge work in advanced and alternative energy to partner with our world-class research facilities and universities to help make Michigan the North American epicenter of the alternative energy industry.” The Flint Center for Energy Excellence is a partnership between Swedish Biogas International, Kettering University, The C.S. Mott Foundation, the City of Flint and several Swedish agencies. The partnership was created to launch a waste-to-energy/biomethane center at the City of Flint’s waste water treatment facility. Kettering University will also collaborate with Linkoping University in Sweden. Kettering is working toward adapting municipal vehicles so that they can utilize the bio-methane as fuel.

With the work being done at both the Flint Center for Energy Excellence and the Center for Fuel Cell Systems and Powertrain Integration, Kettering and its students will continue to be an important aspect of the state’s efforts to create alternative energy jobs in Michigan.

About Kettering University

Located in Flint, Kettering was founded in 1919 and changed its name from General Motors Institute (GMI) to Kettering University in 1998 to honor Charles F. Kettering, a noted inventor and a pioneering proponent of cooperative education. The school enrolls 2,000 undergraduates in 13 engineering, math, science and business majors and 1,200 graduate students in on-campus and distance learning programs in management, manufacturing operations, engineering, information technology and a popular MBA. U.S. News & World Report lists Kettering as one of the top 20 engineering programs in the country, ranked #1 in Industrial Engineering and #2 in Mechanical Engineering among schools without Ph.D programs. Kettering University has been a Merit Member since 1992. For more information on Kettering, visit: