PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students and staff at the Sustainability Workshop held a ceremony today to mark the opening of a unique educational program that grew out of the success of the West Philly Hybrid X Team, an after-school program that has built and competed with alternative fuel vehicles since 1998. Under the direction of Simon Hauger, the West Philadelphia high school students outperformed teams of well-funded engineers, automotive start-ups, and university teams, including MIT.
"I started the after-school program as a way to engage students around math and science," said Hauger. "We started winning major competitions, but the really interesting thing was how students who participated in the program became very successful."
Taking lessons from the project-based work on competition cars, Hauger worked to start a full-day program. "Imagine what we can accomplish if we can work with a student all day, every day, rather than just a few hours a week," Hauger explained. "The Sustainability Workshop is a dream come true."
On September 6, 2011, the doors opened at Quarters A at the Navy Yard. This historic, former Admiral's house is now home to 30 high school seniors, recruited by the School District of Philadelphia from Furness, South Philadelphia and West Philadelphia high schools. The students will spend the year working on projects related to energy efficiency.
The students welcomed the dignitaries and described themselves as "intelligent, resilient, observant, responsible, humble, respectful, motivated and innovative." Stefon Gonzalez, EVX Team Captain, introduced the 2011 Workshop Challenge. "The X PRIZE challenged us to build a car that could get 100 mpg," Gonzalez said. Students then uncovered the student-built EVX GT that won the 2011 Green Grand Prix. "Now, we are asking the city's leaders to present us with new challenges," Gonzalez stated.
Students uncovered a large board where Mayor Nutter placed the first challenge: record the baseline energy usage of your school and reduce it by 30%. School Superintendent Nunery, GPIC Co-Director Paul Hallacher, and District Attorney Seth Williams added to the Challenge Board.
Simon Hauger concluded the Ceremony by thanking the Sustainability Workshop's partners and sponsors who have funded the program.
The Workshop is the product of more than decade of experience combining project-based learning with green technology in the EVX after-school program. Our inner-city students built award-winning alternative fuel vehicles while learning the science and technology that powered them. The Sustainability Workshop takes the winning elements of EVX—real-world projects, hands-on learning, and close collaboration among teachers and students—and places them at the center of the school day.
The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy-Efficient Buildings is a consortium of academic institutions, federal laboratories, global industry partners, regional economic development agencies and other stakeholders that joined forces to secure up to $130 million in federal grants, including $122 million from the Department of Energy to establish an Energy Innovation Hub. The goals of GPIC, located at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia, are to improve energy efficiency and operability and reduce carbon emissions of new and existing buildings, and to stimulate private investment and quality job creation in the Greater Philadelphia region, the larger Mid-Atlantic region, and beyond.
The School District of Philadelphia will grant the students course credits equivalent to what they would receive attending their home high school for the year. Students attending the Sustainability Workshop come from Furness High School, South Philadelphia High School and West Philadelphia High School.
Drexel University will provide Workshop students with the opportunity to enroll in college courses at Drexel during the year.
The Barra Foundation is a private not-for-profit. The Barra Foundation seeks to support and encourage innovation, a key element to discovering new and more effective ways to serve the ever-changing needs in communities. They fund organizations and projects that enable their Foundation to achieve greater social impact in the Philadelphia five-county region through strategic grantmaking in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and human services.
Sustainability Workshop receives significant support from other sponsors, including the ACE Group, Accenture, Cigna, Douty Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, International Battery, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), State Farm, Tuscano Agency, and Willig, Williams & Davidson.
SOURCE Sustainability Workshop