Energy workforce, STEM focus of new SRP, ASU strategic partnership


Public utility Salt River Project is partnering with Arizona State University to expand workforce education in energy and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The strategic partnership will focus on developing energy solutions and stronger communities of the future, with a core goal of comprehensively addressing resilience and adaptation to climate change.

SRP operates generating stations using a variety of fuel sources, including coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydroelectric and solar. SRP manages several dams and reservoirs on the Salt and Verde rivers, as well as East Clear Creek, that produce water and hydroelectricity. SRP operates, maintains and manages these dams and reservoirs on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation, to provide water and power to the surrounding areas. It has a total of eight hydroelectric facilities.

“We deliberately focus on the future,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Our organizations are well-positioned to collaborate with each other and across our communities to advance new ideas, new solutions and new ways of living and working to sustain the future of Arizona.”

ASU and Phoenix-based SRP have worked together for more than 40 years to tackle issues facing the Phoenix metropolitan area, the state of Arizona and the Southwest region. The new partnership is an expansion of that work, specifically in three areas: education and workforce, sustainability and technology innovation.

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“As ASU and SRP are both on paths for significant transition, it is vital we establish common goals, identify transferable insights and develop shared solutions,” said Mike Hummel CEO of SRP.

Workforce development is a key focus for ASU and SRP, two of the largest employers in Arizona. They have begun developing master’s- and doctorate-level energy degree programs at ASU dedicated to transforming the energy sector to develop and embrace low or zero-emissions energy resources and combat the effects of climate change.

ASU is working with SRP to provide initial courses for a customized MBA program starting this year and SRP is currently soliciting staff interest for the initial classes this Spring. The partnership also addresses education at an earlier stage, ASU and SRP are developing and making available K-12 programs that emphasize on STEM-related career exploration and development.

SRP also recently announced it is a founding sponsor of the global Low Carbon Resources Initiative, led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), and as part of its contributing efforts, SRP and ASU are developing demonstration and research projects to advance low-carbon technologies. These efforts will be accelerated with support from leading utilities and educational counterparts from around the world.

Statewide programs in water resiliency and water resource security are also among the partnership’s joint sustainability initiatives, with planned support from other Arizona universities and community partners. As part of this, ASU and SRP plan to expand their research and understanding of forest restoration impacts on the hydrology and water balance of Arizona’s watersheds.

“Many of these initiatives are ones we are already engaged in with SRP,” said Crow. “Now, under the scope of a long-term partnership that explicitly outlines our goals, we have an enhanced foundation to cultivate these projects. This is just the start of what will continue to inspire our organizations to identify and implement innovative solutions to energy and environmental challenges our community faces.”

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