By Peter J. Schubert, director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy and professor of electrical and computer engineering, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, IUPUI
In 2007, Sen. Richard G. Lugar launched the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy with these words: “Establishment of a center dedicated to the task of reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources creates an additional opportunity for Indiana to lead the nation to a new energy future.” Since then, the center has promoted research, education, technology transfer and international collaboration in the area of renewable energy.
Sen. Lugar was a leader in renewable energy for U.S. energy security and environmental stewardship. When he drove a hybrid vehicle into the Senate parking garage in 2001, he turned heads. By the conclusion of his term in 2012, he noted widespread adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles among his peers. Under his direction, one of the five goals for the center is a focus on hydrogen and biofuels. Another of the goals is commercialization of the fruits of university research. A firm believer in the importance of fundamental science, Sen. Lugar exhorted center members to apply their work to the benefit of the community and to create jobs for Hoosiers. Four research members have started companies with the help of the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. in pursuit of renewable energy technology commercialization. One such company is Green Fortress Engineering, which, under a grant from the National Science Foundation, employed 11 people, including students on stipend or research assistantships. A team of entrepreneurs-in-residence stands ready to help research members achieve the senator’s dream by working pro bono in the earliest phases of a tech transfer startup.
The center is administratively housed within the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. It includes 36 research faculty from Indianapolis and nine from Bloomington in fields including business, public and environmental affairs, public health, biology, chemistry, physics, and electrical and mechanical engineering. Faculty from the Lugar Center for Renewable Energy participate in numerous studies, workshops, advisory boards and consulting around the state, sharing their expertise for the benefit of Hoosiers. Each year, some 50 students will work with the Lugar Center, many of whom will take jobs in our state and contribute to the health of our high-tech economy. With the vision of the late Sen. Richard Lugar as an enduring guide, this university-wide research center endeavors to realize his dream of the “opportunity for Indiana to lead the nation to a new energy future.”