When Patrick H. Rice looks out his office window at the pristine waters of the Florida Keys, lapping at the edge of Florida Keys Community College and surrounding the island campus, he sees more than a fabulous view: he envisions an open-air, controlled lab for students to conduct authentic research on renewable energy.
“We are surrounded by hydrokinetic power. We’ve got plenty of wind—sometimes way more than we want—and we’re the sunshine state. So it just makes sense to have a renewable energy program down here. The whole goal is to build the program, and, at the same time, have students help us build the program and build those industries,” Rice says. He is the college’s Chief Science & Research Officer and principal investigator of its Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant (Award # 1601440).
Three of the 11 students in the Engineering Technology-Renewable Energy Technician program, which Rice started with ATE grant support, are in the process of completing capstone internship experiences.