UA receives $1 million donation from American Electric Power Foundation

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 583 views 

Photo credit: Michael Barera

The charitable arm of electric utility American Electric Power (AEP) has donated $1 million to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

The gift from the AEP Foundation will support students from the UA’s Department of Electrical Engineering, according to a news release. AEP is the Ohio-based parent company of Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), which serves approximately 120,000 customers in Arkansas.

“We are pleased to present this grant to the University of Arkansas’ Electrical Engineering department on behalf of the AEP Foundation,” Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “This outreach will inspire students to think and learn about engineering, and then enhance the engineering experience when they get to the University of Arkansas. It’s a great combination of initiatives.”

Support from the donation will focus on three areas:

  • The College of Engineering’s K-12 Scholars Program
  • The Research Experience for Undergraduates project
  • Improving laboratory space in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

The K-12 Scholars Program will receive $300,000. The program involves the UA’s Power Group, a team of 14 electrical engineering faculty members focused on power electronics. The group plans to work with students from kindergarten to high school to encourage them to pursue a career in electrical engineering.

The Research Experience for Undergraduates will also receive $300,000. The funding will allow the program to provide unique opportunities to undergraduate students by exposing them to real-world research activities.

The remaining $400,000 will support the renovation of laboratory space in the Department of Electrical Engineering, which will benefit undergraduate and graduate students for years to come.

The lab renovations will include the Senior Design Capstone Laboratory and the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission. The center enables researchers to investigate solid-state solutions for high voltage applications such as the electric power grid, including protection devices and energy storage applications.

The Senior Design Capstone Laboratory is a space for electrical engineering students working on yearlong projects during their senior year. The experience is an opportunity for students to apply the engineering skills developed throughout their undergraduate careers.

John English, dean of the College of Engineering, thanked AEP and SWEPCO for the support.

“This gift provides important opportunities for our students to excel in research and classroom learning, while also helping us attract future generations of engineers into our programs,” he said. “We’re tremendously grateful to our partners at AEP for this investment in the College of Engineering and the University of Arkansas.”

A formal check presentation is scheduled Thursday (Feb. 20) at 2 p.m. in the UA’s Bell Engineering Building.