Local student receives Y‑12-sponsored scholarship

Posted: August 22, 2011 - 1:56pm

For a second consecutive year, B&W Y‑12 sponsored a $2,500 Tennessee Valley Technology Council (TVTC) Scholarship to support a local student “passionate about technology.” This year’s winner is Elijah Harris.

Harris will be entering the University of Tennessee’s College of Agriculture this fall with plans to major in biosystems engineering. Concerns for our nation’s economy in general and product affordability in particular propel his academic interests, which include the study of nontraditional food and fuel production and alternative energy sources.

Kevin Finney, Y‑12’s Deputy Manager and Senior Director for Global Security and Technology Programs and TVTC chairman, presented Harris with the scholarship.

“Elijah’s enthusiasm and dedication are the cornerstones of innovation,” said Finney. “And those are qualities the Tennessee Valley Technology Council and B&W Y‑12 want to foster and help move forward with this scholarship.”

Reared on a hobby farm in south Knoxville, Harris credits his family with steering him toward his current career path. Encouraged to play outside and to learn about plants and animals, Harris developed a deep appreciation for the environment.

“When I toured the biosystems engineering department at UT last fall, I was intrigued with the research projects that were taking place,” Harris reflected. He began to consider the implications of the research and began to dream of creating environmentally friendly products that all socio-economic groups could afford, noting that “incorporating alternative forms of energy and fuel into [one’s] lifestyle is a lot like purchasing ‘healthy food’ at the grocery store. There is always quite a price tag for striving to do the right thing.”

Harris is a graduate of South-Doyle High School, where he was captain of its basketball team for two years and an outstanding member of its choral music program for four years. He was selected by the faculty as one the school’s “Top 12” seniors.

A part-time employee of a local hydroponic farm, Harris is gaining valuable experience in one of his areas of interest. He reported, “I am learning firsthand about the benefits and challenges of this and other creative production methods.”

TVTC strives be a driving force for regional economic growth and to influence the composition of the work force of the future. According to Cathy Fore, the council’s education coordinator, the TVTC scholarship is “one way it is putting together two e’s — education and entrepreneurship — to help fulfill the council’s mission.”

TVTC is a program of Technology 2020, an innovation and entrepreneurship enterprise founded in Oak Ridge to “build our region one job at a time.” For information and guidelines about the TVTC scholarship, visit http://www.tech2020.org.

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