EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Tuesday morning, UTEP President Heather Wilson and El Paso Electric President and CEO Kelly A. Tomblin signed a memorandum of understanding, establishing a partnership that will enhance energy research and improve education in the El Paso region.

Under the agreement, El Paso Electric (EPE) will collaborate with UTEP on a number of new initiatives, including the creation of exchange programs, joint research and professional development programs, and collaboration on community engagement projects.

“Research relevant to the world around us and engaged learning helps the community while better preparing our students…this partnership with El Paso Electric will generate meaningful energy research and the specialized education needed to prepare our graduates for jobs in the energy industry.”

UTEP President Heather Wilson

“At El Paso Electric it is our mission to develop the partnerships we need to fundamentally transform our energy landscape and provide our customers with the technology and energy solutions they deserve,” CEO Kelly A. Tomblin shared,

“EPE and UTEP are very much aligned on the conclusion that the pathway to those customer benefits depends on optimizing our human capital and utilizing first class research. We are fortunate that we need to look no further than our very own region for institutions that create a pipeline of rich talent that will help us reach our mission. Our public/private partnership with UTEP will demonstrate the power of unity in purpose and vision.”

UTEP’s College of Engineering will spearhead the University’s role in the new partnership. Leaders from the college and EPE have identified four areas of collaboration as the framework to drive the partnership: energy research, human capital exchange, guided student research and community engagement. 

“Our goal at the College of Engineering and across the University is to advance meaningful discovery,” said Patricia Nava, Ph.D., interim dean of the UTEP College of Engineering. “That mission is at the core of this partnership with El Paso Electric. I’m excited to see the discovery that will happen when our students, faculty and staff work together with the EPE team.”

UTEP and EPE have identified initial projects in each area that will start immediately.

Energy Research: Yuanrui Sang, Ph.D., UTEP assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will lead the Spatial-Temporal Emission Tracking from the Electric Power Grid project. Its aim is to develop models to track power systems emissions in real time at specific locations.

Human Capital Exchange: Paras Mandal, Ph.D., UTEP associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, alongside visiting lecturers from El Paso Electric, will co-teach a course incorporating real-life industry challenges.

Guided Student Research: Rodrigo Romero, Ph.D., professor of practice in electrical and computer engineering; and Chris Roberts, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will oversee senior capstone student projects to explore the use of electric vehicles as a charging alternative to reduce grid load during peak times, as well as a consumer-side mobile power source.

Community Engagement: Under the partnership, UTEP and El Paso Electric will engage the community through the Discover-E Trailer, a mobile 26-foot-long hands-on K-12 educational classroom designed to teach engineering concepts and their real-world relevance while encouraging students to pursue careers in engineering. The Discover-E mobile classroom with new elements related to electricity will be complete in early 2022.

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