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University of Toledo ponders Scott Park as site for alternative energy studies



The University of Toledo s Scott Park campus could be transformed into a hub exclusively dedicated to alternative energy.

Picture a solar field lining the eastern edge, wind turbines along Parkside Boulevard, and solar panels on the roof of the building that been renovated into an energy-focused lab and classroom spaces in a new Center for Energy Innovation.

It s what UT hopes to do if its request for federal stimulus money is approved.

UT filed two separate requests for an advanced and alternative energy center and alternative energy generation totaling $75 million.

It would likely take $50 million to transform the campus into a Center for Energy Innovation and additional funds for some of the hardware, said Chuck Lehnert, UT s vice president for facilities and construction.

This would be a campus that would do nothing but work on renewables, alternatives, and sustainable energies, Mr. Lehnert said.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs said the university put the requests high on its list for federal stimulus dollars and is watching closely how it plays out.

We think it s a good shot, he said.

The university was discussing the idea of such a focused campus and the federal stimulus prompted a more concrete plan.

The Scott Park campus has served as an overflow campus for years and academic functions have been moving out of that location to the main campus for some time, Dr. Jacobs said.

I d like to change it from an overflow campus to a place people want to be, he said.

The Scott Park campus has been referred to as ComTech in the past, getting that name from UT s community and technical college that occupied the building on the campus for years.

Toledo Public Schools Early College High School is housed at Scott Park. It s so early in the process that it s not known how the change could affect the school, Mr. Lehnert said.

UT appears to be unique in taking the reins to set aside a physical campus to focus on the up and coming fields of alternative energies.

It s not that unusual, however, for a university to have a designated area for a particular field of study.

Ohio State University, for example, has an Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster that focuses on studies such as crop management and services, floral design and marketing, and dairy cattle and horse production and management.

The Center for Energy Innovation would help UT reduce its carbon footprint, include a model for student participation, and demonstrate the university s commitment to clean and alternative energy.

UT has a reputation as a leader in the field with the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization housed at UT, as are the offices of the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio.

UT also has a Clean and Alternative Energy Incubation Center that helps start-up businesses in the industry.

The university also is working to establish a new designated school for such research and instruction, possibly named the School for Advanced Renewable Energy.

A school would help bring together world class faculty, advance technology transfer, and build on the university s incubation of companies, said Frank Calzonetti, vice president of research development.

We need to be aggressive and maintain our leadership position, he said. To UT, aggressive means having the model for the school established by the end of this fiscal year in June.

There are a number of questions to be answered before then, such as the focus of the school.

Would it be just solar, in which UT has a niche, or would it be broadened to include advanced energy or renewable energy in the title?

And would faculty be assigned specifically to the school, would it have a dean or a director, and how would it be funded?

The plan is for master s and doctoral degree programs to be offered through the school.

Both the center and the school are in line with state and federal initiatives and could advance UT s place in the growing research and commercialization of alternative energy, leaders said.

If we do seize the moment, we can elevate our stature, Mr. Calzonetti said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert or 419-724-6134.

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