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Annual Merit Review Evaluates Impact of Sustainable Transportation Projects

June 17, 2014 - 1:15pm

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A vehicle undergoes dynamometer testing at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Powertrain Research Facility in Illinois. The project is one of many that is being evaluated at the Vehicle Technologies Office and Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting this week. | Photo by Argonne National Laboratory

A vehicle undergoes dynamometer testing at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Powertrain Research Facility in Illinois. The project is one of many that is being evaluated at the Vehicle Technologies Office and Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting this week. | Photo by Argonne National Laboratory

Did you know that there are experts who evaluate the Energy Department’s work to see if projects really are transforming clean energy economy in sectors like transportation? To gather feedback from the research community, many programs across the Department have annual merit or peer reviews where scientific experts rate projects for their value.  This week from June 16 to 20, the Vehicle Technologies Office and Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program are simultaneously holding their Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of Energy Department-funded projects will be put to the test.

To cover almost all of the work funded by the program and office reviewers will judge more than 300 individual activities. The reviewers come from a variety of backgrounds, including current and former members of the vehicles industry, academia, national laboratories, and government. From back-to-back presentations to poster sessions, the days are intellectually demanding, requiring intense focus and analysis of highly technical projects.

But the valuable feedback will make the challenge worth it.  Each reviewer evaluates a set of projects based on how much they contribute to or advance the Energy Department’s missions and goals. The reviewer considers the project’s breadth, depth, appropriateness, accomplishments, and potential.  Considering the short and long-term benefits, he or she judges the project based on a standard set of defined metrics. Reviewers provide numeric scores and in-depth comments, creating a comprehensive project report card. After the review, the offices carefully consider the reviewers’ recommendations as they generate work plans, create long-term strategies, and formulate budgets.

Open to the public and free of charge, the Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting provides a great opportunity for those interested in the Energy Department’s research, development, and deployment activities in transportation to learn about the relevant programs. Merit reviews also serve two other valuable purposes: increasing transparency and building a vibrant research community.

Can’t attend? The offices will post the presentations to their websites a few weeks after the meeting.  In fact, presentations from past merit reviews are available on the Vehicle Technologies Office website and the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program website. About three to four months after the review, the programs also post reports with the results of the review.

Because the reviews bring together breadth and depth of energy experts, they allow researchers in industry, academia, and government to learn about others’ projects.  They help scientists see where their work intersects, enabling them to collaborate more effectively. They also facilitate the movement of technology from the government, labs, and universities into the private sector, which can bring them to market.

Merit and peer reviews are invaluable to the government, public and industry.  They help keep projects on the right track and drive innovation forward.  While the Vehicle Technologies Office and Hydrogen and Fuel Cell 2014 Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation meeting is only this week, it will have a positive impact for the clean energy economy of tomorrow.

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