Midlands Technical College to Expand Fuel Cell Training Facilities

March 7, 2008

Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge awards MTC $62,000

COLUMBIA, SC – March 5, 2008 – Midlands Technical College (MTC), with the support of the Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge, is expanding the college’s Fuel Cell Technician Program on its Beltline Campus. The Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge is supporting this project with a $62,000 award to the Midlands Technical College Foundation. These funds will help the college enhance next generation workforce development in the vital area of fuel cell technology.

MTC’s existing fuel cell laboratory, which opened in fall 2006, trains students in basic fuel cell technology. To develop a viable workforce of fuel cell technicians, the college is expanding its facilities to include two additional laboratories. The Fuel Cell Challenge’s award is helping MTC reach its goals of creating a world class next generation training center for the future fuel cell technician workforce.

MTC is building a fuel cell subsystems lab and a commercial-variety analytical testing lab. The subsystems lab is designed to train technicians in the components and equipment that make up a fuel cell unit. The subsystems lab and the analytical lab are expected to be operational within a year.

“To attract businesses to Columbia that produce and utilize fuel cells, we need to offer them a trained workforce,” said Dr. Marshall (Sonny) White, Jr., MTC president. “For every scientist or engineer coming out of USC, Midlands Technical College must produce approximately seven technicians to sustain research-based production and innovations. It is vital for MTC to support emerging technology industries such as alternate energy.”

Neil McLean, Executive Director, EngenuitySC said, “We are excited about the MTC investment. It will help us build the nation’s best hydrogen fuel cell workforce right here in South Carolina. Additionally, this program will further strengthen our growing portfolio of market-based resources for attracting and retaining the nation’s top hydrogen and fuel cell companies into our region.”

“South Carolina is a significant player in a number of areas of fuel technology,” said Dr. Clint Chandler, Chair of MTC’s Engineering Technology Department. The University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering is engaged in a number of important research efforts in fuel cell technology, and USC is host to the only NSF Funded Fuel Research Center. There’s great interest in the upstate from Clemson University, and BMW has actually introduced a fuel cell powered vehicle. There’s the Savannah River Plant, which is developing new and better techniques for the storage of hydrogen fuels. And in Columbia, there has been significant interest in stationary and mobile power systems, for example the stationary system employed at USC’s green dorm.”

According to Chandler, the next step for Midlands Technical College to further its fuel cell workforce development efforts will be to establish strong relationships with key players in the industry. Companies such as Millennium Cell’s Gecko Energy Technologies, which recently announced they will market test their new fuel cell powered product in Columbia, will be instrumental to the success of the project. “The fuel cell initiatives taking place in Columbia have the potential to greatly impact the economy of the region and the state,” said White. “Midlands Technical College is taking an active role in those efforts.”

Fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to produce extremely clean energy. The only byproducts of fuel cells are heat and water, and unlike traditional means of generating electricity, hydrogen and oxygen-powered fuel cells produce no harmful greenhouse gases. Fuel cells can power anything that runs on electricity and can be used to power vehicles, electronic devices, homes, businesses, and many other applications.


About The Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge

The Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge is a comprehensive public and private sector initiative with the expressed goal of making the Columbia, S.C. region the global model for the mass deployment of fuel cell applications and other alternative energy sources. We are actively seeking partners–companies, vendors or individuals, with an interest in helping us achieve this vision. Our region is united in this effort, and we share a real passion for creating the alternative energy ecosystem of the future. We believe that fuel cells and other alternative energy options will revolutionize not only cities, but more importantly, the lives of citizens through the freedom that comes from energy independence, the overall environmental benefits and the economic opportunity that this potential trillion dollar new industry will generate. The Challenge is being managed by a coalition consisting of The City of Columbia, The University of South Carolina, The South Carolina Research Authority and EngenuitySC.  For more information, please visit www.fuelcellchallenge.com


About the USC Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative:

The University of South Carolina – City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative was formed by the University of South Carolina, the City of Columbia, EngenuitySC and the South Carolina Research Authority to position Columbia, SC as a leader in hydrogen fuel cell innovation and technology.  Its mission is to attract private sector partners, top fuel cell scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators to the Columbia region; as well as to collaborate with private sector leaders from all areas of the fuel cell market for the unprecedented deployment of fuel cell and other alternative energy technologies into multiple city, university and commercial applications throughout the region.


About Midlands Technical College

Midlands Technical College is a comprehensive, multi-campus, public, two-year college serving the primary region of Richland, Lexington and Fairfield counties of South Carolina. The college enrolls approximately 15,000 credit students annually, and provides continuing education to 30,000 individuals and hundreds of area businesses each year. MTC is the largest provider of transfer students to the University of South Carolina.