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UT Received Grant for Sustainable Energy Collaboration with Technological University of Uruguay

The University of Tennessee Knoxville (UT) was recently awarded a $50,000 grant under the 100K Strong in the Americas initiative. This grant, generously supported by CAF: Development Bank of Latin America, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the U.S. Embassy in Chile, focuses on fostering climate action and inclusive education exchange programs between higher education institutions in the United States and Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. 

The project, titled “UTEC-UTK Collaboration for Sustainable Energy Ecosystems in Southern Cone,” aims to accelerate workforce development, knowledge sharing, and climate action through international collaboration in the field of sustainable energy. Key components of the collaboration include faculty-led study abroad courses, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) virtual exchanges, and the establishment of an international student-led network for climate action initiatives. 

Additionally, a thematic workshop on Electric Mobility for the Net Zero Transition and Equity, organized by UTEC, will address critical topics such as educational models for a future workforce, policy brief development, public engagement in energy-related issues, and strategies to broaden stakeholder engagement and inter-regional partnerships. 

The collaborative initiative is the result of the dedication and vision of several units. Zhuang, Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Sciences and Director for NSF funded project FEWSUS, together with Mulville, FEWSUS Program Manager and Latin America and Caribbean Program Administrator at the Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture, commitment to UT’s efforts in advancing sustainable energy initiatives. This seed project builds on the successes of NSF FEWSUS that helped craft a compelling proposal, highlighting the university’s commitment to global education and climate action, which secured the grant. Other collaborators in this project include Drs. Adam Willcox, Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes and Deborah Penchoff, who will help lead study abroad components and workshop activities respectively.

When asked what excites her most about the project, Mulville said “Workforce development! Decarbonization is critical for the future of our planet. Uruguay is ahead in the race to Net-Zero and provides an excellent real-world laboratory for students to learn about policy development, national commitments, stakeholder adoption and regional energy advances”. She added, “I am very excited about this project as it will help expand collaboration with Southern cone academic institution and key energy-related players in the region. This pilot program will present a great opportunity for students from engineering, agriculture, and business majors to expand their global competencies while learning about regional energy policy development, new technologies, and outcomes of sustainable energy ecosystems. Participating faculty will be able to share and exchange knowledge with international peers while devising possible new academic and research programs, thus increasing UT’s global footprint and leadership.”

The project aligns with UT’s vision to “conduct research that makes life and lives better.” Gretchen Neisler, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of UT’s Center for Global Engagement commented that, “Through projects like this, we are embracing the transformative power of education and innovation as we unite in the pursuit of a sustainable future. We are inspiring the next generation to champion the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we can shape a world where knowledge, compassion, and action converge to create a legacy of lasting impact.” 

This collaboration also aligns with the broader goals of the U.S. Department of State to create a greener, more inclusive, and prosperous Hemisphere through enhanced regional education cooperation. Ambassador Bernadette M. Meehan, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, commended the winning teams and emphasized the potential for collaborative educational initiatives to contribute to a more prosperous and inclusive hemisphere. 

UT looks forward to making significant contributions to sustainable energy ecosystems and promoting climate action through international education initiatives. 

About Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture 

The Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture (Smith Center) was launched with the vision of positioning the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) as the go-to organization for global engagement in the agricultural-related sciences among U.S. land grant institutions. 


FEWSUS is funded by the US National Science Foundation. The grant, awarded to faculty and scientists at the University of Tennessee (UT) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), supports the development of an International Research Coordination Network (iRCN), designed to facilitate transdisciplinary, multinational communications and accelerate the development and transfer of multisectoral data, standards, analysis tools, new technologies, and a trained workforce among differently urbanized countries. Upcoming Event: 2024 FEWSUS International Symposium

About the Center for Global Engagement 

The Center for Global Engagement works to lead, coordinate, and support the university’s strategies for global education, research and engagement. Initiatives include developing and managing international partnerships, welcoming and assisting international students and scholars, providing education abroad opportunities to students and creating international and inter-cultural programming for campus and the broader community. 

CGE administers the COIL virtual exchange program. Learn how to participate or partner, please visit or email 



Danielle Walters (865-974-6489,