April 2005


Dr. Fenton
FSEC Director, Dr. Jim Fenton.
(Photo credit: Nick Waters)

It's hard to believe that I've been here more than three months already, but I can honestly say it's been a great start for me in my new position. My family has adapted well to the move and my kids love their new schools. Oh, I can't say that we don't miss the Connecticut winter a little, since we're all into outdoors activities like skiing and skating, but it's really not that tough to adjust to winter in Florida . My kids sailed my wife and me in a hobie cat last weekend. I knew I was officially here when I found myself loudly rooting for my new school, UCF, in the opening round of college basketball's "March Madness" when they played my old school, Connecticut . Guess I've got sand in my shoes already.

I've spent much of my time here so far getting to know the staff and taking part in such activities as working on budgets, putting proposals together and learning all about the varied activities that go on at FSEC. I can tell you it's been a real education so far.

Two activities, though, have taken up big chunks of my time, and they're both very important to us today and for the future.

First, I've spent a great deal of time on campus meeting with department heads and faculty in the College of Engineering, talking about ways that we can work closer together and looking at ideas on joint proposals, research projects and possible new academic programs. As a result of these meetings, we're getting ready to hold an energy summit on campus to bring together our researchers with the many on-campus researchers working on energy projects. We'll try to identify areas of expertise for collaboration and expansion of all of our programs.

Second, we're taking a close look here at the future of FSEC and what we think we should be doing in the coming years and beyond. The center is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary, and so we're looking at our direction for the next 5, 10, 20 years or more. Our executive committee has had several meetings in which we have started to plot a direction for new research, education and other programs, utilizing the strengths we have today and the help we'll need in the coming years to reach these goals. I think we're getting a good handle on opportunities that look just perfect for FSEC to pursue.

As part of this, Philip Fairey put together a solid "SWOT" analysis program in which we're identifying FSEC's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for the future. The executive committee has spent a lot of time on this already, and we've got some great information for our planning. As I write this message, I'm waiting for the same survey responses from our entire staff, and then we'll put all this together and chart a plan that will take us into the coming years where we can be most effective and most productive.

I've also met with the staff and talked with them about our plans, traveled to Tallahassee to talk with energy office officials and our local legislators, welcomed a number of key visitors to the center and gotten out to a number of community groups to keep them posted on what's going on.

What is most exciting for me right now is what I'm hearing from the hard-working people at FSEC who obviously love what they're doing and see their work here as more than a job. They're true believers in what we are doing, and as we make these plans for the future, I must tell you that I am honored and excited to know that I will be a part of all that is yet to come. This center's first 30 years have been spectacular, but - you haven't seen anything yet! There is a new sign that was just added to the road on my way home: " Merritt Island, Where Dreams are Launched." Well, I'm confident that FSEC will be the launching pad for Florida 's Energy Future.

I'll be sharing our plans, goals and objectives with you in the coming months and I know that you'll share our enthusiasm for what lies ahead. I'll also welcome your comments and ideas as we develop the plans for the future of the Florida Solar Energy Center.