Nations that innovate will lead,West Virginia University President David C. Hardesty Jr. told about 120 scientists and engineers attending the DOE /NSF EPSCoR Conference 2005 June 15 in Morgantown.

Hardesty challenged the participants from across the nation to educate and innovate,because the U.S. cannot compete globally on cost. We must innovate.

EPSCoR, or the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, is a federal program to increase the number of scientists and engineers at universities in selected states to become more involved in research with industry, government and federal research and development agencies. EPSCoRs goal is to promote statesS&T resources as a foundation for technology-based economic growth.

The event was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Energys National Energy Technology Laboratory and the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at WVU on behalf of the West Virginia State EPSCoR program. It was sponsored by the EPSCoR programs in the DOE s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

Hardesty cited the growth of India and China as world economic powers that will influence how Americans live, in large part due to their growing populationsincreased demand for energy. To reinforce his point, he noted that experts have told him that China would use 100 percent of the worlds available energy if allowed.

Such demand ultimately will drive energy prices higher.

When I was a student at WVU ,he said,we used to say, �€~What does that have to do with the price of eggs in China?Well, I can tell you that today, the global village is getting smaller and prices in China will most definitely affect us in the U.S.

Hardesty called the expected competition for resources good, but said such competition is the prime reason why innovation is so important.

Energy tracks almost exactly with economic development,Carl Bauer, acting director of NETL , told the group.

Developing countries such as China and India want Americas standard of living. To get there, they will need energy, he said.

People in the U.S. take for granted that when they flip a switch, the lights will come on. But there are more than 3 billion people in India and China. Many of them dont even have switches in their homes,Bauer said.

Bauer encouraged the researchers to educate not only their students, but also their neighbors.

Those of you who understand technical issues need to talk about these issues in ways that people can understand,he said.

Both Hardesty and Bauer linked energy to national security.

If we dont innovate and share what we develop with less developed nations, we may increase the risk of conflict with those who are willing to take the energy by force,Bauer said.

The goal of the conference was to start innovative basic research collaborations among EPSCoR university faculty and scientists from DOE national laboratories such as the NETL ,said Matesh Varma, manager of the EPSCoR program for the DOE . NETL is

the nations leading laboratory studying coal, oil and gas.

Collaborations leverage enormous national scientific resources for the development of clean, affordable energy extraction, production and distribution systems,Varma said. He also pointed out that effective collaboration between agencies such as the NSF and DOE foster world-class science in ESPCoR jurisdictions.

EPSCoR is a force for positive transformation,said Sherry Farwell, head of the EPSCoR Office at NSF . He shared the story of a young woman from a rural EPSCoR state who overcame economic barriers to become a biologist studying the environment.

This scientist wrote a personal thank-you note to me saying that because of EPSCoR, she is reaching her potential, overcoming the odds and making it in the world. In essence, EPSCoR is about the people who can give life to new technology that improves the quality of life for all,he said.

Technology can also transform rural states, such as West Virginia, said West Virginia State EPSCoR Director Paul Hill.

New high-speed data networks are one way that a state like West Virginia can tap into the resources at our national laboratories,he said.

We already have connections to some of the worlds biggest, fastest computers through the Supercomputing Science Consortium and through the Access Grid node at WVU . Both have received EPSCoR support,he said.

The Access Grid has nodes across the country and was developed by Argonne National Lab, he explained.

In fact, the overall enhancement of the tools and the scientists afforded by EPSCoR ultimately can enhance economic development in the state, Hill said.

We have a long way to go, but it is innovations like these that can promote more innovations that can move West Virginia forward economically,he said.