Standing Up for Re-ENERGYSE

March 26, 2010 | Yael Borofsky,

Last week, DOE Under Secretary Kristina Johnson testified on behalf of RE-ENERGYSE before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development (excerpted below) emphasizing the critical need to invest in energy education in 2011. Breakthrough has been call for a national investment in STEM education since June 2008 when we proposed the National Energy Education Act.

"One crosscutting initiative that I'd like to highlight is RE-ENERGYSE, or REgaining our ENERGY and Scientific Edge. RE-ENERGYSE is a $55 million collaborative effort which includes EERE ($50 million) and NE ($5 million) and involves close coordination with the Offices of Science, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies. This initiative is aimed at filling the gaps in the energy workforce pipeline by training current and future generations of energy professionals through fellowships for higher education, energy-focused curriculum development for technical training, and K-12 education and outreach. We have extensively surveyed existing educational activities within the Department and in other agencies and found that we lack a coordinated funding approach for these proposed activities. REENERGYSE will focus on engineering and applied sciences, separate and distinct from existing Office of Science educational programs focused on basic science and experiential teacher training. REENERGYSE will also, however, tap into existing Department resources to administer fellowships and coordinate other activities.

Our RE-ENERGYSE request is consistent with the spirit and intent of several authorizing provisions in the America COMPETES Act of 2007. For example, Section 5003 of the Act authorizes the Secretary to establish the Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE) Graduate Fellowship Program. Eligibility criteria for students applying for fellowships under this program include: the pursuit of a field of science or engineering of importance to a mission area of the Department; imagination and creativity; leadership skills in organizations or intellectual endeavors; and excellent verbal and communication skills to explain, defend, and demonstrate an understanding of technical subjects relating to the fellowship. These are exactly the types of students to whom we would like to award fellowships through RE-ENERGYSE.

As President Obama said on April 29, 2009: "RE-ENERGYSE educational campaign to capture the imagination of young people who can help us meet the energy challenge...Energy is this generation's greatest project. America's young people will rise to the challenge if given the opportunity - if called upon to join a cause larger than themselves." The Administration looks forward to working with the Committee and other Members of Congress to help make this vision and program a reality."