RENO — The University of Nevada, Reno, has been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant to develop and operate the National Geothermal Institute.
The institute will be a consortium of geothermal schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell, Stanford, the Oregon Institute of Technology and the University of Utah, officials said.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Energy was announced Monday.
UNR officials say the institute will provide research and augment work at UNR’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy.
All the schools in the consortium conduct geothermal research and education, but none provides a geothermal degree program on its own. Officials say the new venture will be the country’s first university training program of its kind.
"The National Geothermal Institute is a brain trust," said Gina Tempel, associate dean of UNR’s College of Science.
"When you bring people together, their collective knowledge and collaboration can result in new courses or techniques that they might not have thought of at their separate institutions."
The National Geothermal Institute’s goal is to educate and train the next generation of scientists, engineers, plant operators and policymakers.
Classes could be offered as early as the spring semester of 2011, Tempel said. The geothermal program is expected to offer a series of eight one-week courses with additional field trips and a project required.
Tempel said UNR was a natural choice as the site of the training program because so much of the geothermal energy in the United States is produced in Nevada.
"We are sitting on the resources, and we are the leader in this field," she said.