Alumni fund will contribute $50,000 to Cockrell School of Engineering

Keely Wirries

A new alumni fund will contribute $50,000 to the Cockrell School of Engineering, providing financial support for student projects and energy research.

Married UT alumni Rusty Osborne and Cecilia Green donated money to the school’s Webber Energy Group, creating the Osborne Green Energy Endowed Excellence Fund.

“The endowment will go towards student development in the Webber Energy Group and will generate about two to three thousand dollars a year for professional development and sustainable energy research,” special projects coordinator Marianne Shivers Gonzalez said. “What’s really amazing is that the endowment has the potential to grow with more donations added to it.”

The Webber Energy Group specializes in research aimed at creating clean and renewable energy. With current projects ranging from using geothermal energy to desalinate water, to improving irrigation efficiency, the group hopes to use the endowment to create more effective leadership for its current and future projects. 

“This is the first clean energy endowment of its kind,” group leader Michael Webber said. “[It] sends a signal that UT is a university of the first class for all types of energy, not just the conventional fuels.”

UT is already home to the largest and most integrated microgrid in the US which Osborne helped build, and because of that it attracts national attention with its energy sustainability projects. 

“While traditional research contracts pay the students’ stipends and tuition, we can use this additional support to focus on other critical factors related to leadership, including communications skills, goal-setting, team-building and so forth,” Webber said.

The endowment’s effects may not be felt immediately, but by making lasting contributions towards a cleaner, healthier and more energy efficient UT, future students can be sure to see some changes, Margaret Cook, civil engineering graduate student and member of the Webber Energy Group, said.

“Fellow students will share in a better future because leaders that are trained and active on campus can make a huge difference in energy effectiveness, and we can all benefit from that,” Cook said.

The donation by the Osborne-Green family has brightened the future of sustainable energy at UT, Gonzalez said.

“Everybody involved in the Webber Energy Group feels the same way — honored and humbled for the generous donation and for the faith instilled in the group,” Gonzalez said. “We are all so excited and proud to see its impact.”