July 25, 2013 Lee’s Summit, Missouri – Exergonix CEO Don Nissanka Wednesday was part of the delegation that welcomed President Barack Obama during the President’s speech to University of Central Missouri students. The President was in Warrensburg to talk about the University’s new Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program. Nissanka – who approached UCM President Chuck Ambrose to develop the concept for the MIC few years back, and was recognized yesterday along with Worldwide Technologies CEO Dave Steward for their contributions to UCM. Both Nissanka and Steward are UCM graduates who have been actively involved in the growth of educational programs there.

President Obama recognized the importance of programs like UCM’s, “Everybody is now working together to equip students with better skills, allow them to graduate faster with less debt and with the certainty of being able to get a job at the other end,” he said.

Nissanka said, “The visit by President Obama was a monumental event for Warrensburg and the area. More importantly it focuses attention on a cutting edge education program in our own back yard that brings a unique way for our future work force to learn.”

“The goal of the program is to train a generation of advanced, educated employees for companies throughout the region including Exergonix,” Nissanka said. “Our goal is not only to develop a quality workforce, but also to spark further innovation and incubate new entrepreneurs through hands on learning.”

The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) is a collaboration between the Lee's Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College, the University of Central Missouri and business partners such as Exergonix, Cerner and DST. MIC students will graduate with a four-year degree, two years after high school, no student debt, applied experience through paid internships and highly sought-after skills for high-paying careers. Beginning their junior year in high school, students take classes from Metropolitan Community College and the University of Central Missouri to earn college credit. Upon graduation from high school, these students will have their high school diplomas and associate degrees. After high school graduation, students

who finish their curriculum are eligible to complete a bachelor's degree from UCM

in only two years. Academic programs at the MIC focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. (http://www.ucmo.edu/about/mic/)

Exergonix, based in Lee’s Summit, Missouri designs and builds renewable energy solutions for a wide range of applications including storage for solar and wind power, utility management and emergency back up. The company’s technology provides the missing link in the advancement of grid and micro-grid level infrastructure. Energy storage and renewable technologies are essential to the evolution of a smarter decentralized grid structure that can help the world's population alleviate its dependency on fossil fuels and protect the environment for future generations.

The company is building its world headquarters and production facility on an 85-acre campus it owns in Lee’s Summit. The campus is also planning to house the future home of the Missouri Innovation Campus and other renewable energy businesses that will also employ MIC students. The company also is expanding in Europe and in Asia in a diversified business structure to become a global leader in green initiatives.

Nissanka – a graduate of UCM – was recognized as a Distinguished International Alumnus in 2006. His work on the Innovation Campus concept has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Lumina Foundation and the Senate Commerce Committee which had him testify about the concept in 2012.

You can see video footage on President Obama’s speech and MIC initiatives below:

Columbia, Missouri -  University of Missouri, a Univerdant member, has announced that it has received a gift from Enterprise Leasing, the St. Louis-based rental car company in the amount of $2 million to study biofuels and energy efficiency.  The University of Missouri is deeply involved with a broad spectrum of research ranging from sustainable agriculture, biofuels and sustainable building design to modular nuclear reactors and radioisotope batteries.  

Enterprise Holdings owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands and was founded in 1957 by St. Louis native Jack Taylor. Taylor named the company after the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier, which he served on during World War II.  Enterprise Holdings has more than 74,000 employees, and more than 600 of those, including several senior executives, are Missouri alumni.

For more information regarding this sustainability gift see the recent article in the Kansas City Star

Nick Hennen
It has been two years in the making, but through the hard work and tenacious leadership of Nick Hennen, Univerdant is now a reality.  Several years ago, Nick began to circulate the idea of a consortium of companies, civic organizations and educational institutions that could create a green energy and sustainability think-tank of sorts.  For the for-profit members this might look like a tight collaboration, or "virtual firm" as Nick often called it, that would allow smaller regional companies and emerging start-ups to work with bigger companies to compete for large projects.  Through strenuous networking, recruiting and endless presentations and discussions, Nick brought together a broad selection of companies and institutions with hundreds of years of collective experience.

A critical ally in his quest for an organization that would encourage development and synergize sustainability technologies throughout the Midwest and around the nation was Jim Curran, Executive Vice President of Electrical Connection.  The Electrical Connection, in and of itself is a remarkable collaboration between the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International  Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  Its purpose is to create a platform for management and labor to work together to open new economic opportunities in the emerging energy conservation and new energy generation markets.  Jim is also a member of the board of directors of the Hawthorn Foundation and has been a driving force on the Missouri economic development scene for many years.  The Hawthorn Foundation is a nonprofit organization of corporations and business leaders who are working to make Missouri’s future brighter by encouraging the economic success across the state.

Recently, Univerdant found support for its vision from two of Missouri's most important academic institutions.  Missouri S&T was the first academic institution to join Univerdant and has established itself as a model for university participation.  Tony Arnold, the Assistant Director of the university's OSE3 program has recently been elected to the board of directors of Univerdant.  The University of Missouri at Columbia has also joined the Univerdant membership and is represented by Dr. Robert Reed who is also the director of the Midwest  Energy Efficiency Research Consortium.  Other major universities have applications for membership pending.

Univerdant members offer a broad range of services and products from solar heating units that reduce energy consumption in commercial boiler systems from Engineered Solar Solutions, to top-end engineering services offered by two of Missouri's premier engineering firms, EDM, Inc. and FDH, Inc.  Nick Hennan's own company, Exergonix, is one of Univerdant's best examples of high-tech product development.  Exergonix makes lithium batteries that can store up to a megawatt of electricity and can be used to capture energy produced by wind generators for release into the grid at times of peak need.

Univerdant offers to the region and nation a "one-stop" energy and sustainability management resource that can offer any company, institution, or even individuals, access to top-flight expertise, services and products to meet virtually any need.  As the organization grows, it intends to broaden its offerings into all aspects of sustainability including the government and community development sectors.

And to think, this all became possible through an idea shared by an enterprising electrical engineer.  Thanks, Nick!