New CERE partners learning with industry experience

  • Center for Energy Research and Education allows students to share lab space with local and leading industries.
  • State-of-the-art facility will also hold engineering classes designed to reflect what industry professionals seek from potential employees.

Liberty University’s Center for Energy Research and Education, located in Forest, Virginia, opened this fall and will help Liberty grow its research portfolio by partnering with both local and large industries.

Classes will be held at the CERE starting the fall of 2019. The building has a lab space that all the engineering students will be able to use.

Richard Diddams, executive director of the CERE, said the building is cutting-edge.

“It’s a state-of-the-art facility, so it’s a large draw for prospective engineering students,” Diddams said. “It allows us to conduct research, which is important, not just for Liberty’s credibility, but it also allows us to actively engage with industries and be seen as a leader in the energy sector.”

The building has six large labs set up with built in chases, which allows them to run external equipment to keep noise and vibrations down.

The building is also certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The building lets in natural daylight, which allows it to be more efficient by minimizing the amount of artificial light needed, and it will promote the well-being of the workers.

Another feature at the CERE is the BWX Technology Integrated Systems Test Loop. This loop will provide an opportunity for industries to utilize it for research.

“We want to be self-generating in our income, and the way we do that is by providing a laboratory that industries can use,” Diddams said. “They pay Liberty for that usage, and it also provides an opportunity for us to conduct applied research and answer a problem that the industry has.”

Diddams said students will benefit in several ways from the CERE.

“(Students) will have mentorship from industry leaders, and they’ll have access to equipment they wouldn’t normally have access to,” Diddams said. “They’ll also have an opportunity to interact with industry before they graduate that allows them to understand what employers are expecting of (new employees).”

Diddams said partnering with industries is very important for students’ job prospects and designing a curriculum to prepare students for the work force. While the deans have the ultimate decision on the curriculum, Diddams said companies provide input.

“We shape our curriculum based on industry needs, which means that our workers are more relevant in the workforce,” Diddams said.

Because engineering is a constantly changing field, Diddams said they are constantly adding and changing classes.

“For example, just recently, we learned from one of the leading industry firms that they’d like to see more material science type classes for all of the engineering students,” Diddams said. “This is something we have the ability to add to our curriculum. This means that when they graduate, they’re more likely to be hired.”

There will be only a few work-study positions available at the CERE, but there will be many job opportunities for students through the firms they partner with.

“Certainly, the industries will likely offer them jobs because they get to do what we like to call ‘test driving an engineer,’” Diddams said.

The CERE is also benefitting the community. Both local firms and large industries want to use the facility for applied research opportunities.

Students interested in Liberty’s engineering program can find out more by visiting it under the academics page on Liberty’s website or by emailing the School of Engineering and Computational Sciences at

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