Tuesday, April 15, 2014

O.A.S. Visitors See EPIC Innovation

By Paul Nowell

A delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS) recently toured UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) as part of a program sponsored by the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The program’s overall focus was to provide the delegates insight into Charlotte’s emergence as a global energy capital, which is why city leaders wanted the delegation to visit EPIC. Alexis Gordon, international relations manager for the city of Charlotte, led the tour.
OAS delegation
Visitors from Central and South American get a briefing
 from Prof. David Young.

EPIC was created by UNC Charlotte to prepare highly trained engineers who would be qualified to meet the demands of the energy industry, through traditional and continuing education. In addition EPIC provides sustainable assistance for the Carolinas energy industry by increasing capacity and support for applied research. 
OAS delegates spent time in two of EPIC’s high-tech laboratories. One was the high-bay lab, an advanced testing facility where faculty and students design and test resilient infrastructure systems. They also visited EPIC’s Smart Grid Lab.
“The average age of the engineers working in the field right now is 55 and that means they are getting close to retirement,” he said. “In addition, it takes a different skill set to work in the new technology than what was being taught 20 years ago.”
EPIC is a highly collaborative industry/education partnership that produces a technical workforce, advancements in technology for the global energy industry while supporting the Carolinas’ multi-state economic and energy security.
The U.S. Department of Commerce through the International Trade Administration and the Economic Development Administration in collaboration with the Inter-American Competitiveness network arranged for the OAS visit, which included about 51 delegates from several OAS countries.
The delegates are considered “gatekeepers” in their home countries who can make economic development happen. They included vice ministers, private sector leaders, mayors, heads of major universities and leaders of regional economic development partnership groups.
Chip Yensan, associate director for infrastructure at the Charlotte Research Institute, briefed the delegation on UNC Charlotte’s latest facility, PORTAL.  Both EPIC and the PORTAL building are located on the University’s Charlotte Research Institute campus.
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Paul Nowell is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations.

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