North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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Case studies COMPLETE CIRCUIT The state connects with industry to energize the workforce. By Edward Martin W Challenge: The continued growth of North Carolina���s energy cluster is dependent on a supply of workers trained in the latest technology. Solution: The state collaborated with industry giants to launch UNC Charlotte���s Electricity Production and Infrastructure Center to train a new generation of engineers. 44 here the Catawba River forms a giant horseshoe northwest of Charlotte stands a working relic of the past. Its smokestacks tower over sycamores that line the banks and reedy bottomland where waterfowl still take ���ight in the fall, but the days of Duke Energy Corp.���s Riverbend Steam Station are numbered. Built in 1929, its massive coal burners are supplemented by naturalgas turbines, and the power plant is used only when demand for electricity peaks. It will be retired in 2015. The future lies barely 20 miles away on the campus of UNC Charlotte. Johan Enslin cranes his neck to look up a four-story wall, part of a new brick building facing what will soon be the university���s football stadium. In engineering terms, it���s called a strong wall. ���It has anchor points that you can attach items to that you want to test,��� says the South Africa native, who has spent his career shuttling between academia and private industry on three continents. ���We���ve also got anchor points in the ���oor, which is 10 feet deep or so, and the speci���cations call for it to be able to carry a million pounds with less than a quarter-of-an-inch de���ection.��� Inside the 200,000-square-foot building, a new generation of engineers and scientists learn to build and operate replacements for power plants such as Riverbend. They will shape how electricity is generated and transmitted in the decades to come. Some of the technology will be familiar at UNC Charlotte���s Electricity Production and Infrastructure Center, where engineer Enslin is director, but the challenge will be training students for the unknown. ���We anticipate new nuclear reactors that might be totally different from what we know today, maybe even fusion reactors. There are so many new things that we don���t even think can happen that we have to train engineers today to be able to make those transitions in their lifetimes.��� Duke Energy trains employees for its nuclear power plants, top, but looks to EPIC for its future workforce. Bottom, EPIC���s labs include the latest engineering tools, including a strong wall. North Carolina Economic Development Guide

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