By 2040, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects global energy demand to increase by 50 percent, but according to Purdue University, there aren’t enough students entering the STEM disciplines to meet the demand.
To address the issue, Duke Energy and Purdue University created the Duke Energy Academy in 2012. In June, the academy marked its fifth year with 50 high school students and 34 teachers attending the week-long program at the Purdue Energy Center at in West Lafayette, Ind., to learn about energy sciences and engineering.
Since its inception, 350 students and teachers from more than 120 schools in 20 different states have gone through the program. More than 93 percent of students indicated they would enter a STEM-related field in college and pursue energy careers.
According to Pankaj Sharma of the Purdue Energy Center, participants enjoyed the hands-on activities like designing a wind turbine and touring the power generation facilities at Duke Energy's Cayuga power plant in western Indiana and Tipmont REMC solar farm near Linden, Ind.
While at the academy, students worked along with teachers on a research project that was presented to professors, industry sponsors and parents. These projects ranged from making solar, battery, and fuel cells to energy harvesting.
The program was free for all to attend. Several teachers will be invited back to share their experience in designing and delivering energy lessons in their classrooms to improve STEM and energy education.
Plans are already in the works for next summer's academy, which will take place June 18 to 24, 2017. Beginning in November, interested high school students and secondary teachers can apply here for next year's program until the Jan. 15, 2017, deadline.