Jan. 15, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - For the third time since 2008, President Barack Obama came to the campus of NC State. During his two previous visits he spoke at Reynolds Coliseum, and on Wednesday, Obama spoke at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
Obama and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have tapped NC State to lead a $140-million advanced manufacturing institute that will unite academic, government and industry partners in an effort to revolutionize energy efficiency across a wide range of applications, including electronic devices, power grids and electric vehicles.
The mission of the Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is to develop advanced manufacturing processes that will enable large-scale production of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, which allow electronic components to be smaller, faster and more efficient than semiconductors made from silicon.
WBG semiconductor technology has the potential to reshape the American energy economy by increasing efficiency in everything that uses a semiconductor, from industrial motors and household appliances to military satellites.
Power in Partnership
NC State is leading the institute because of its success in developing energy innovations and working with partners to deploy them. NC State faculty in electrical engineering, computer engineering and materials sciences are on the leading edge of efforts to advance the use of WBG semiconductors.
NC State’s think-and-do approach to solving problems has created solutions that are already reshaping the energy sector. As the only university leading two active National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centers, NC State has a proven track record of assembling teams to confront global challenges. In 2008 the university launched the FREEDM Systems Center, a model for the new clean energy institute, to lead the modernization of the U.S. power grid. Three years later the NSF created the ASSIST Center at NC State, which is developing self-powered health monitors.
A Presedential stop at a NC State Athletics venus is nothing new (compiled by University Communications):
• Rising political star John F. Kennedy campaigned at Reynolds Coliseum on Sept. 17, 1960, six weeks before he was elected as the nation’s 35th president.
• Lyndon B. Johnson was the first sitting president to speak at NC State, when he met up with his wife, Lady Bird, who was in the middle of a whistle-stop campaign tour of the South, just months after her husband signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Accompanied by NC State graduate William Friday, president of the UNC System, Johnson warned an agricultural-minded crowd of some 14,000 at Reynolds Coliseum that his opponent, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, would cut farm subsidies.
• On a sweltering Sept. 5, 1985, Ronald Reagan gave a major speech at Reynolds, promising to lower taxes on 58 percent of Americans and to simplify tax brackets. With 15,000 students and supporters on hand in the arena – which lacks air conditioning – Reagan had to ditch his jacket before he could proceed with his speech.
• George H.W. Bush did not give a speech on campus during his term in office, but he faced the Wolfpack on the baseball field as Yale’s first baseman in April 1948. “The husky first-sacker,” as The News and Observer described him, had a good day, collecting a single, double and triple in Yale’s 9-6 win.
• Bill Clinton visited on Jan. 26, 2009 to deliver the annual Harrelson Lecture in the Millennium Speaker Series at Reynolds in front of a student, staff and faculty crowd of 8,000.
• Obama and his wife Michelle have appeared twice previously at NC State. On May 6, 2008, Obama essentially secured the Democratic nomination for president when he overwhelmingly defeated Hilary Clinton in the North Carolina primary.
It was a particularly emotional moment for Obama’s communications director and close advisor, Robert Gibbs, a former NC State soccer player who earned a political science degree in 1993 and spent one semester as a graduate assistant in the soccer program.
“I can’t tell you how amazing it was, that night, to be there in a special place where I spent so much time during college,” Gibbs said. “It was the perfect setting.”
Obama returned on Sept. 14, 2011, in a campaign-style rally to promote his American Jobs Act at Reynolds.