PORTLAND - The U.S. Department of Energy will present a special award to Oregon State University during ceremonies honoring Oregon's top high technology companies here Thursday (Dec. 11) night.

Presentation will be made during the 1997 Technology Awards Dinner at the Oregon Convention Center, sponsored by the Cascade Pacific Council of Boy Scouts of America. Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Denise Swink will present the award to OSU President Paul Risser, honoring the university's contribution to the state's manufacturing community through the OSU Industrial Assessment Center.

Since its establishment in 1976, the OSU center has helped more than 300 manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest. Its teams of faculty and student engineers have recommended annual productivity, waste and energy cost savings of more than $15 million to local firms.

The OSU program also has provided in-depth practical training for scores of new engineering professionals.

George M. "Greg" Wheeler, the director of the center, will be recognized during Thursday's program. Wheeler, an OSU energy extension specialist, established the Northwest Industrial Energy Forum in 1990 and currently is helping two Mexican universities adopt the Industrial Assessment Center program. In August, he was presented the U.S. Energy Department's Outstanding Service Award.

The OSU center is one of 30 nationwide. The centers offer no-cost energy audits and waste reduction analysis to manufacturing plants and utilities. Energy officials estimate that the centers have contributed cost savings of more than $525 million across the nation.

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Denise Swink, 202-586-9232