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College of Engineering and Computing

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This National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program provides Ph.D. students at the University of South Carolina with the unique training and skill sets to advance the science and engineering of nanomaterials for sustainable energy.

How The Program Works

IGERT fellowships are available for motivated students from engineering, chemistry, physics, materials science, and related fields. Students with a B.S. and/or M.S. degree in these fields are encouraged to apply.

The IGERT PhD Fellowship support includes full tuition and fees, and a stipend of $30,000 for the full academic year. The Fellowship is a two-year Fellowship and only open to U.S. citizen or permanent residents, who are applying to the doctoral degree in one of IGERT participating departments. Each Fellowship recipient also receives funds to travel to scientific conferences and defray educational expenses, and to participate in a 3-6 month international research internship in China or Japan. Women and underrepresented minorities are particularly encouraged to apply. Since IGERT PhD students are admitted to their department with appropriate full stipend and tuition support, they are supported through this mechanism when not receiving the IGERT PhD Fellowship funding.

Trainees are collaborating in interdisciplinary research teams consisting of researchers from the Colleges of Engineering and Computing and The College of Arts and Sciences. They will receive a technical education in materials for alternative energy production and gain experience in technology commercialization, entrepreneurship and science communication.


Program Highlights

Interdisciplinary Research: students in the program are co-advised by faculty from two different departments, working on projects within the following three research thrusts:

  1. CO2 conversion to liquid fuels, using electrochemical and heterogeneous catalytic approaches;
  2. catalytic conversion of biomass to liquid fuels and fuel additives;
  3. novel materials and devices for photovoltaic conversion of solar energy to electricity.

Broad Technical Education: unique 1-credit hour modules designed to underpin the science and engineering behind alternative energy production extending beyond students’ research specialization area; integrated coursework taught using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach; formal training in effective communication, research methodology, and ethics.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: formal training through the Moore School of Business, including in intellectual property development and opportunities and barriers to commercialization of new technology; ability for IGERT team to compete for $50,000 in seed funding to commercialize their research.

Communication Through Outreach: students will discuss the future energy landscape and their specific efforts with various technical and non-technical audiences throughout South Carolina.

International Experience: students will participate in a 3-6 month research internship at our partner institutions in China (Dalian University of Technology, University of Science and Technology of China) or Japan (Hokkaido University, National Institute for Materials Science).


Integrated Education

As future leaders in energy technology, our IGERT students need a firm understanding of fundamentals in business, technology commercialization, and public energy policy as well as in core STEM topics. In addition to a sequence of one credit modules covering facets of energy fundamentals related to the research thrust areas, additional instruction in business, entrepreneurship, and public policy is included. One of the key components of this program will be bringing in business leaders, public policymakers, and attorneys specializing in the protection of intellectual property to lead one credit modules and to share their unique views with the students. Using this multi-faceted teaching approach, students will be exposed to a very wide range of experts from outside the university and will also learn to communicate with non-scientists and non-engineers. The interdisciplinary one credit modules will employ the approach of problem-based learning, which will teach students the problem solving skills needed to take their ideas and discoveries from the lab and communicate them effectively to non-technical venture-capital firms in order to transform them into possible components of solutions to societal challenges.


Specialized Modules for IGERT Students

IGERT students must complete 12 one credit hour modules: eight required courses and 4 additional electives. 

Required Courses
IGERT 700 IGERT Introduction
IGERT 717 The Energy Landscape
IGERT 718 Communications and Literature Searching
IGERT 719 Ethics in Research
IGERT 720 Public Energy Policy
IGERT 721 Opportunities for Entrepreneurial Commercialization
IGERT 722 Obstacles to Successful Commercialization
IGERT 723 Strategies, Resources, and Methods to Commercialize the Technology

Elective Courses
IGERT 710 Solid State Materials
IGERT 711 Fundamentals of Spectroscopy
IGERT 712 Scale-up Engineering / Systems Integration
IGERT 713 Solar Conversion Devices
IGERT 714 Chemical Processing
IGERT 715 Nanoscale Characterization
IGERT 716 Transport Phenomena

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