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KBH Energy Center Partners With Engineering, Enhances Tech Expertise for Energy Solutions

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The Kay Bailey Hutchison Energy Center met Thursday night to celebrate a new partnership with the Cockrell School of Engineering. Left to right: Roger Bonnecaze, dean of the Cockrell School; former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a distinguished UT alumna; UT President Jay Hartzell; Lillian Mills, dean of the McCombs School of Business; and Robert Chesney, dean of the School of Law.

AUSTIN, Texas — Energy security is getting a boost at The University of Texas at Austin. The Cockrell School of Engineering will now partner with the Kay Bailey Hutchison Energy Center.

At a time of deepening urgency around energy security, the new collaboration further strengthens the University’s commitment to be a preeminent center for studying and applying energy technology. Through the new partnership, the center will be able to expand its curriculum and offer a more robust variety of student programs and events.

New appointments will enhance these efforts, including the appointment of Michael Webber, professor of mechanical engineering, as the center’s new engineering academic director. An internationally reknowned energy expert, Webber holds the John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering and teaches and conducts research on the convergence of engineering, policy and commercialization.

Gene Shepherd, founder and CEO of VTX Energy Partners LLC, is the center’s new engineering co-chair. A member of the center’s executive council and of Cockrell’s Engineering Advisory Board, Shepherd has many years of financial and operational leadership in the energy industry.

The KBH Energy Center directly supports the University’s all-inclusive approach to energy technology, with its mission to provide students with field and classroom opportunities in energy management. Available to all UT students, the center is particularly popular with engineering majors.

“At the Cockrell School, we believe deeply in collaborating across disciplines to solve hard problems, and that’s why we’re so excited to join the KBH Energy Center,” said Roger Bonnecaze, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “Together with our colleagues across the Forty Acres, we will break down boundaries between law, business and engineering to shape the future of energy — from oil and gas to wind and solar, to energy storage, hydrogen and nuclear power.”

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is a distinguished UT alumna, said the center is poised to drive real change with this new partnership. She acknowledged Cockrell Engineering’s preeminence, pointing to the late John B. Goodenough and the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his part in developing the lithium ion battery.

“Texas is the leader in traditional oil and gas recovery, and in the use of wind and solar power,” she said. “Working with UT’s Cockrell School, the KBH Energy Center will continue to be the leader in new approaches and technology to make clean, affordable energy that fuels the economy of the U.S. and our allies.”

The KBH Energy Center was created in 2014 between the McCombs School of Business and the UT School of Law. Adding the Cockrell School of Engineering will reinforce the center’s technical expertise, supporting the expansion of existing programs for engineering students and industry leaders. Students and practitioners in energy and related industries will work on energy solutions to improve domestic and international economic stability and security.

“The addition of the Cockrell School to the KBH Energy Center further enhances KBH as one of the preeminent energy centers in academia, and will deepen the experience UT students gain from their involvement in KBH events and activities,” Shepherd said.

To learn more about the Kay Bailey Hutchison Energy Center, visit its website here.