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Personnel File - September 2009: Engineering

Steve Patterson
Director, Energy Production And Infrastructure Center

Steve Patterson considers himself a member of the Sputnik Generation. The 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite started the space race, prompting an emphasis on science and technology education during Patterson’s formative years in Los Angeles. Now 60, he aims to pass along the love of those fields as director of the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center at UNC Charlotte.

A joint effort of the school, Charlotte-based Duke Energy and several other energy-related companies, EPIC is expected to help fill the demand for workers in the sector. Construction of the 200,000-square-foot building, which will include classrooms, offices and laboratories, is scheduled to begin this month and be finished in fall 2011. Patterson expects EPIC to attract energy companies to the region.

Patterson, who got a bachelor’s in physics in 1970 from California Institute of Technology and his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis, spent nine years in the Air Force as a researcher on weapons-grade lasers, among other things, and flight instructor. Since then, he has bounced between UNC Charlotte and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where he most recently was associate director of engineering.

He thinks Charlotte occupies a sweet spot in the industry. “You can’t underestimate the importance of Duke Energy’s decision to be here. Right now, the region is poised to become even more important, with research [at the university] going on in the fields of clean, alternative energy. It will become more prominent not only in terms of meeting the state’s energy needs but the country’s too.”