Penn has been given a jolt of energy.
A new undergraduate program, VIPER — the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research — will offer students a dual degree from the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The program, which focuses on alternative energy research and application, will be funded by a $13.6-million donation from 1950 College graduate Roy Vagelos and his wife, Diana, the University announced on Thursday.
The VIPER program will be limited to approximately 25 students per incoming class. Recruiting for the freshman Class of 2016 has already begun.
“The VIPER program is a unique undergraduate program in its focus on a critically important area of study for our country and the world: alternative and efficient energy sources,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “We all can be proud that VIPER draws on Penn’s unique strengths in combining great interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.”
Already the benefactors of the Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences and the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, Roy and Diana Vagelos have to date given more than $21 million to Penn’s “Making History” fundraising campaign, which hit its overall target of $3.5 billion last Friday.
They have been the largest financial supporters of SAS’s Making History fundraising push.
The VIPER program will enable students to participate in advanced science and technology courses, as well as receive specialized lab instruction from industry professionals.
Thursday’s announcement marked “a really good development for Penn,” said Wharton and Engineering sophomore Max Lamb, who serves on the executive board of PennSolar, a group that promotes solar energy. Lamb added that he would “definitely consider applying to the program” if he was an incoming freshman.
Engineering sophomore Laura MacKinnon, who serves on the executive board of Eco-Reps, a student environmental education group, agreed.
“As much as we try to conserve energy here at Penn today, it’s not a long-term solution,” she said. “This program is great because it takes a look at that long-term future.”