Conference Report on H.R. 6, Energy Policy Act of 2005

Date: July 29, 2005
Location: Washington, DC

CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 6, ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 29, 2005)


Mr. WICKER. Mr. Speaker, the Energy Policy Act that the House passed yesterday includes a commitment by Congress to make a significant investment for research and development into renewable and alternative sources of energy. As demand for clean and reliable energy increases, it is imperative that America's young people be introduced and educated in conservation and alternative energy. To decrease foreign dependence, we must increase our knowledge and ability to foster our own forms of energy. With that in mind, it is with great pleasure that I inform this body of some recent educational achievements in alternative energy sources.

The Dell-Winston Solar Challenge is an educational competition among high school teams from across our Nation using solar powered cars. The competition began ten years ago at the Winston School in Dallas, Texas, to promote science and engineering to high school students. This unique competition has grown significantly since its inception. Technology and Learning magazine has named this Solar Race Challenge as one of the 10 Most Innovative Projects in Education.

In an effort to produce a competitive solar-powered vehicle, teams spent up to eighteen months designing and building the sun-fueled racers. The nine teams crossed the finish line at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after an eight-day race that began in Round Rock, Texas. The 1600-mile competition concluded this year as the winning team set a new race record with a top speed of 57 miles per hour. I am immensely proud that the winner of this race is located in my district, from the city of Houston, Mississippi.

This race team from a town with about 4,000 people consistently dominates the competition from much larger cities and schools. This remarkable team from the Houston Vocational Center is under the guidance of adviser and race coach Keith Reese. The team includes: captain Katie Weaver and members Tyler Davis, Austin Jordan, Stefanie Barkley, Brister Bishop, Matt Jernigan, David Peel, Leign Anna Springer, Mason Faulkner, Quinton Grice, Callie Weaver, Katie Weaver, Jesse Lal, Roderick Wiley, and Andrea Westmoreland. I am proud of each one these individuals. Their hard work and dedication is evident in the finished product.

The winning tradition of this team includes more than the aforementioned teachers and students. This project has grown into a community event. Support from the City of Houston is as consistent as the team's success. It is evident that these constituents have recognized the positive impact projects like these provide.

Year after year dedicated students and teachers build and race these advanced solar powered machines. This year marks the fifth consecutive time the Houston Race Team has won the coveted title. To quote Bubba Weir, the Executive Director of The Mississippi Alternative Energy Enterprise, ``The Program integrates classroom principles in a real-life situation that fosters learning and encourages the students to work to the best of their ability.''

This team brings much more than a trophy back to Mississippi; they bring a renewed emphasis and excitement to the fields of science and energy research. As the number of students studying math and science decreases nationwide, programs such as these pay dividends in increased interest in these fields. Dr. Lehman Marks, the founder and director of the Dell-Winston Race described it as ``A Challenge that helps teach high school students the 21st century skills they need to be successful in the future, whether it's to become the scientists and engineers of tomorrow or wherever their paths may lead.''

I am encouraged when I see future leaders taking the initiative to compete and excel in this demanding contest. Programs like this demonstrate the importance of implementing new education techniques. Projects outside the classroom environment generate learning that enhances knowledge students receive from traditional instruction. The challenges in the fields of math and science are changing, and I am proud that Mississippi's educators are training students to meet these challenges head on.

The success of the Houston solar race team has spread statewide, and many other Mississippi schools are beginning to experiment in alternative energy education programs. It is good to see young Mississippians leading the way through these innovative projects. Congratulations to the Houston Solar Race Team for an extraordinary performance and a job well done. The city of Houston, Chickasaw County, the entire State of Mississippi, and the United States of America are very proud of you.