The University Training and Research (UTR) program comprises two long-running university training programs that prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers to meet future energy challenges. These are the University Coal Research (UCR) program and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU-OMI) program. By working with students at the university level, the efforts ensure that key technologies in areas including advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, smart data analytics, and high-performance computing will be integrated into fossil plants of the future. This program upholds the DOE’s mission by supporting long-term, high-risk meritorious fundamental research that advances the science of coal technologies at eligible U.S. colleges and universities.
Grant recipients are selected through a competitive FOA, based on research topics of the highest priority to FE programs. Grants of $10,000 to $25,000 were previously available for award in early years of the program. These were used by the institutions as “seed money” to generate proposals or acquire training to prepare proposals. On those instances, students did not benefit directly from the grant. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, the funding per award was raised from $250,000 to $400,000 over a two- to three-year period. As of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, the funding per award has been increased to $500,000 for both programs. On average, one to three students per award year participate in each one of the projects funded under University Training and Research, acquiring experience on fossil energy research. Students are also asked to make the presentations at the Annual Project Review meetings.
A yearly webinar outlines the program objectives and mission to help students and institutions gain an in-depth understanding of how to prepare and submit proposals. The program sponsors the education, training, and research capabilities in the fields of science and technology related to fossil energy resources. Annual Kickoff Meetings and Project Reviews allow for students to hone their presentation skills, demonstrating their own research, findings and status of all active projects.
The program provides a mechanism for cooperative research among minority-focused institutions, the private sector, and Federal agencies. The central thrust of the program is to generate fresh ideas and tap unique talent, define applicable fundamental scientific principles, and develop advanced concepts for generating new and improved technologies across the full spectrum of fossil energy R&D programs. Since its inception, the program has emphasized improving the energy and environmental capabilities of advanced coal, oil, gas, and environmental technology concepts. The program supports DOE’s Strategic Plan to advance domestic and global industrial competitiveness, clean energy research, national security, diversity initiatives, and environmental quality.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU-OMI)
Work conducted in this program enables segments of the college population, not typically tapped for educational research in these subject areas, to advance technical skills and provide a meaningful contribution to the Fossil Energy Program. Thus, grants awarded under this program are intended to maintain and upgrade educational, training, and research capabilities of HBCUs/OMIs in the fields of science and technology related to fossil energy resources. The key purpose of this program is to involve professors and students. Essential to the success of this program are (1) the collaborative involvement of HBCU-OMI professors and students along with the commercial sector; and (2) the establishment of linkages between the HBCU-OMI and private sector fossil energy community in the development and execution of fresh research ideas. Approximately three to four competitively selected grants are awarded annually.
University Coal Research (UCR)
Since its inception in FY1979, the UCR Program has maintained three objectives, to be achieved simultaneously, which are: (1) sustain a national university program of research in energy and environmental science and engineering related to coal through innovative and fundamental investigations pertinent to coal conversion and utilization; (2) to maintain and upgrade the coal research capabilities and facilities of U.S. colleges and universities; and (3) to support the education and training of our next generation of scientists and engineers.