A new program to advance the development of practical solar energy technology worldwide has begun at the University this month thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Program director Philippe Fauchet, chairman of Computer and Electrical Engineering in the Hajim School, says the program is also developing innovative and highly interdisciplinary approaches to training the next generation of experts and entrepreneurs in renewable energy.

Students in the program will receive training in economics, public policy, communications, and psychology, as well as a first-hand understanding of the multicultural and global aspects of renewable energy. The program integrates multidisciplinary research involving several academic departments across engineering, the physical and social sciences, and humanities, with key innovations in education and training.

The aim, Fauchet says, is to create "a multidisciplinary community where scholarly research blends with entrepreneurship and policy, where academia, government and industry work synergistically, and where students develop first-hand understanding of all the key aspects of the global energy problem." Among the educational innovations planned are internships in partner institutions that include several US companies and national laboratories, and four European research institutions, all of which are leaders in renewable energy. There will also be both teaching and fieldwork in three partner African universities, providing opportunities to understand how innovations may work when actually applied in real world environments.