Earlier this month, the R.K. Mellon Foundation awarded the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy at the Swanson School of Engineering a $22 million grant to expand energy research and education. This gift, one of the largest ever received by Pitt through a private foundation, will allow the university to broaden its energy materials and grid research and continue to position Pittsburgh as the center of innovation in American energy.

As site of the first commercial oil well and nuclear power plant (amongst many other “energy firsts”), the Pittsburgh region has been home to cutting-edge energy research and development for well over a century. Building upon this legacy, Pittsburgh today is creating solutions for tomorrow’s energy challenges through its ability and willingness to tackle energy innovation through a cross-disciplinary approach.

Our region is recognized internationally for the unique way in which corporate, nonprofit, government, university and foundation communities work together to achieve civic and community benefits. This “Pittsburgh Model” is a competitive advantage that helps drive innovation. The R.K. Mellon Foundation’s grant is just the latest in a long string of interdisciplinary commitment and cooperation to energy innovation.

Dean of Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering Gerald Holder expands upon these points in a recent Pittsburgh Business Times column. In addition to the Center for Energy, Pitt’s world-renowned Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation is working alongside the National Energy Technology Laboratory, and other university and corporate partners to integrate sustainability and energy into one coherent strategy.

Holder writes:

Despite having two separate centers, we fully understand that “sustainability” and “energy” are not wholly separate. They often combine to promote a literal and figurative “synergy,” and often are inextricably linked, providing a new launching point for our region’s economic growth. Companies such as Eaton, Westinghouse and CONSOL, and builders such as Mascaro all are focused on improvements in energy-generating and energy-consuming technology — think smart buildings, smart grids and smart people. As their competitive position strengthens through innovation, they will grow their business and create thousands of high-value jobs in this region.

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Watch Gerald Holder’s recent appearance on Our Region’s Business below to learn more about the work being done at Pitt’s Center for Energy and how R.K. Mellon’s $22 million grant will greatly help expand it.