University hosts forum on energy

By Don Shilling

The Mahoning Valley connects with researchers working in new forms of energy.

YOUNGSTOWN — Researchers who specialize in sustainable energy are at Youngstown State University this week to exchange ideas and discuss how to turn those ideas into marketable products.

The two-day Sustainable Energy Forum that ends today attracted about 125 people from more than 20 states, including university researchers and company executives who work in wind, solar and other forms of energy.

“The purpose is to plug Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley into the green revolution that is coming,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-17th, of Niles, .

Martin Abraham, dean of YSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said his faculty and students will benefit by becoming more involved in energy research.

Plus, the area can benefit if energy companies see the Mahoning Valley as a good place to do business. He hopes they will set up plants in the area because of the area’s manufacturing expertise and growing interest in advanced technologies.

One of the presenters, Anthony Cugini of the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, said he is excited about YSU’s interest in research collaborations. He said he hopes to encourage YSU faculty and others at the conference to explore the opportunities involved in new forms of energy.

“This is an exciting thing. This kind of conference sparks a lot of debate,” said Cugini, director of the office of research and development at the NETL.

Abraham credited YSU alumnus Jack Scott with being the driving force behind the conference.

Scott earned a degree in mechanical engineering and worked his way up to become president and chief operating officer of Parsons Corp., a California-based engineering and construction company that has $3.4 billion in annual revenues.

Scott said he has a passion for sustainable energy, but he wanted to hold the conference in Youngstown because of his love for the Mahoning Valley and its people.

“One of the greatest assets of this area is the work ethic,” he said. “We hire people from all over the world. You can always tell people who were hired from this area.”

Scott said the forum has to produce action to be a success. The goal is to link researchers with innovative ideas to people who can bring those ideas to market, he said.

Discussions are to be held today on how to continue the collaborations, he said. Also, he and other organizers will meet Wednesday to review the effort and talk about the future.

The issue of sustainable energy is critical for the nation, Scott said. The nation needs to rebuild its manufacturing base to remain an economic power, and a new opportunity is to produce parts for wind turbines, solar panels and other new forms of energy, he said.

The nation should not rely on other countries for these forms of power as it has done with oil, he said. The U.S. sends nearly $1 trillion a year to Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries.

“It’s the single biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the world,” he said.

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