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UT, Pecan Street Open New Technology Commercialization Lab

Pike Powers Lab ribbon-cutting ceremony June 11th, 2013

The UT-based consortium Pecan Street has been steadily making headlines since it began in 2008 with a focus on testing green energy and smart-grid solutions in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood. (One past project had 100 Mueller residents driving Chevy Volt hybrids and tracking their energy consumption.)

Today Pecan Street marked a significant milestone: the opening of the Pike Powers Laboratory and Center for Commercialization, a cutting-edge space where entrepreneurs, UT students, and researchers will design energy-efficient products like solar panels and fuel cell technologies. Stocked with more than $600,000 worth of the latest testing equipment, the lab is intended to speed up the progression of energy ideas from the lab to the consumer marketplace.

The $1.5 million sleek and modern three-story building—designed with help from UT’s School of Architecture and the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering—stands in sharp contrast to the 1960s-era former airport control tower directly across the street.

Representatives from tech giants like Intel, National Instruments, Dell, 3M, and the U.S. Department of Energy joined a crowd of more than 100 Austinites at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the lab this morning.

Pecan Street president and CEO Brewster McCracken, JD, MPaff ’95, paid tribute to Texas’ history as an oil powerhouse in his speech, noting, “Entrepreneur is just a French word for wildcatter.” Investing in the next generation of energy solutions, McCracken said, is a natural progression for a state that has long been anchored on energy.

McCracken called Pike Powers, the lab’s namesake donor,”the godfather of Texas’ technology economy.” Powers, LLB ’65, Life Member, is an attorney and businessman who McCracken said played a key role in encouraging tech companies like 3M and Samsung to set up shop in Austin.

McCracken also said he was proud that the lab is outfitted with technology, like high-powered computers, donated by Dell and National Instruments—both companies that were founded by UT alumni. “We have the infrastructure for success, and we’re going to hand over the keys to the students and entrepreneurs,” he said.

Pike Powers cuts the ribbon at the Pike Powers Laboratory & Center for Commercialization. Photo by Colin Rowan.

 

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