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CCCC receives grant to develop biofuels curriculum

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SANFORD - Central Carolina Community College has received arnBioNetwork grant from the North Carolina Community College System tornplan a biofuels curriculum program.

“It’srna new and emerging industry,” said Provost Karen Allen of the college’srnChatham County Campus in Pittsboro, where the program will be based.rn“We want to be out in the forefront, be the leader in the state, thernplace people in North Carolina and the Southeast go for biofuelsrneducation.”

Biofuels are anrnenvironmentally friendly and renewable source of energy made from newrnor recycled vegetable oils or animal fats. Nationally, production andrnsales of biodiesel, a diesel replacement fuel, has grown from anrnestimated 25 million gallons in 2004 to a projected 150 million gallonsrnin 2006. Biofuels are seen by proponents as a way to lessen America’srndependence on petroleum fuels and cut down on environmental pollutionrnfrom them.

The goal of the BiofuelsrnCurriculum Development project is “to create a comprehensiverneducational program that will lead to a well-trained labor force forrnNorth Carolina’s developing biofuels industry,” according to the grantrnapplication written by the college’s Grants Office.

Thern$58,190 grant will enable the college to hire a curriculum developer tornresearch and create a full curriculum program on biofuels. That personrnwill work with Allen and an interdisciplinary advisory committee tornassess industry preferences about the type of credential that wouldrnbest qualify graduates for immediate employment in the industry,rnevaluate existing college courses for their applicability to a biofuelsrncurriculum program, and create and adapt courses for the program. Arn“train the trainer” component will be included to enable otherrncommunity colleges in the BioNetwork to offer biofuels training.

On-linernversions of the biofuel courses will be developed so that students canrnstudy via the college’s distance education program.

“Thisrnis exciting to be on the cutting edge,” said HollyAnn Rogers, CCCCrnGrants Coordinator. “We’re filling a gap for the BioNetwork, addressingrnsomething that has not been extensively developed as, for example,rnbioprocessing.”

CCCC has had a growingrninvolvement with biofuels since Rachel Burton, a former CCCC studentrnand a co-founder of Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsboro, starting teachingrnan introduction to biodiesel class at the Pittsboro Campus in 2002.rnBurton will serve on the biofuels interdisciplinary advisory committee.

“I’mrndelighted to see that we have funding for a curriculum developerrnposition and we can be a model for the state and the entire communityrncollege system in biofuels development,” Burton said. “It will helprnfurther the industry and it’s going to be great for the industry tornhave more educated technicians for biofuels.”

ThernNCCCS BioNetwork is a statewide initiative that connects staterncommunity colleges that are training workers for the pharmaceutical andrnbiotechnology industries. It provides specialized training, curricula,rnequipment and grants to further their work.

CCCC’srngrant was one of 15 innovation grants, totaling $690,613, received byrn13 state community colleges for planning and programs related tornbiotechnology. The BioNetwork also awarded 27 grants totaling $2.4rnmillion to 21 community colleges for biotechnology and biomanufacturingrnequipment and training.