University of St. Thomas’ innovation in renewable energy is catching the eye of lawmakers in Washington, resulting in new federal partnerships that are garnering national attention.
Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, more than $10 million is on its way to St. Thomas to advance microgrid research and establish a new center dedicated to helping emerging companies develop clean energy technology. Through it all, St. Thomas students will have a front-row seat to groundbreaking technology only found at a handful of institutions across North America.
McCollum, who served as the chair of the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee from 2021-23 and is now the ranking member, championed the St. Thomas programs as she learned about the university’s unique engineering programs and research capabilities.
“It is my firm belief that Minnesota can play a more robust role in supporting our nation’s innovation priorities and national security needs,” McCollum said. “That means leveraging Minnesota’s academic sector, and working with top-tier institutions like the University of St. Thomas to develop the workforce of the future.”
Language in the past two federal appropriation bills has been driven by new research and projects emerging from St. Thomas, including funding to advance its Center for Microgrid Research. (In the FY22 Defense Appropriations Bill, $7 million was directed to St. Thomas for the Center for Microgrid Research. In the FY23 bill, another $4 million was directed to the center.)
In the FY23 bill, McCollum’s efforts also funded the establishment of a new center at St. Thomas that will help emerging companies develop clean energy technology alongside the university’s students and faculty. The St. Thomas Applied Renewable Technologies (START) Center will create a testing and validation hub for companies who are developing sustainable technologies. For St. Thomas students, that means a unique view into how a renewable energy idea becomes a business.
“As our reputation grows nationally, we are deepening our connections in Washington, and our federal lawmakers are helping us identify resources that will benefit our students and advance our strategic goals,” President Rob Vischer said. “We are grateful to Rep. McCollum for helping us make connections that bring exciting new research and hands-on experiences to our community.”