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BSC’s Dr. Tesfaye Belay Receives Energy Conservation Grant from Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Dept of Energy

  • Created
    Thursday, August 09 2012
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103 jnelson@bluefieldstate.edu

tesfaye belay

(Bluefield)—Dr. Tesfaye Belay, a faculty member at Bluefield State College, was selected to receive a $100,000 "Energy Conservation Grant" from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Dept of Energy. The grant will cover the cost of a research project to promote adopting solar energy to illuminate a primary parking area at the College, train BSC students in solar panel installation technology, illustrate how an energy conservation program can benefit students, administration and community, and partner with local high schools to advance STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) education through a student pipeline establishment.


Dr. Belay has established a visiting research professorship and collaboration with Dr. Jih-Sheng (Jason) Lai, James S. Tucker/Professor, and Director, Future Energy Electronics Center in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Lai's research group will train BSC students to install solar panels by taking part in the installation procedures and management of performance of the panels. Following at least five sets of training sessions, students will install a solar panel on a simulated system. The students will then practice the actual installation process under the supervision of Dr. Lai's research group to determine readiness for a career and certification in solar energy technology.

In the administration of the research project, Dr. Belay will be joined by Professors Roy Pruett and Dr. Anthony Woart of BSC. Professor Pruett will lead the selection of qualified engineering students to participate in solar panel utilization and oversee the proper implementation of all installation procedures of the solar panel process. Dr. Woart will work in collaboration with Dr. Belay and Professor Pruett, while also serving as a liaison between the college and local high schools. He will reach out to administrators and recruit students from the local high schools to enroll at BSC. "Establishing partnerships with area high schools will aid in the preparation and enhancement of post-high school education," Dr. Belay observed. Activities in support of this goal include conducting student orientations on STEM fields in high school campuses, and establishing a summer program experience beyond the summer visit to Bluefield State College.

This marks the second grant that Dr. Belay has received from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Department of Energy.